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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Anacardiaceae (Mango, Pepper tree, Pistachio, Cashew family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Order: Sapindales

About 70 genera and 600 species, native mainly to the warmer regions of the world but also in some temperate regions. There are 13 genera and 113 species native to southern Africa, an additional three genera and four species naturalised, and an additional 10 genera and 22 species that are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).


There is only one species, Wild Plum Harpephyllum caffrum, endemic to southern Africa and grown widely in this region as a garden tree.


Two species, Heeria argentea and Heeria paniculosa, both endemic to southern Africa, found mainly in the Western Cape.


About 40 species, native from Africa to India with eight species native to southern Africa.


The only species, Laurophyllus capensis, is endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.


The only species, Loxostylis alata (Tarwood), is endemic to southern Africa.


About 40 species, native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with 20 species native to southern Africa.


About 20 species, native mainly to Madagascar but with one species, Protorhus longifolia (Red beech), found in southern Africa.


Species from southern Africa formerly placed in Rhus have almost all been split off into the genus Searsia. Only one native Rhus species is known from southern Africa and in addition there are four species that are cultivated in the region.



The two species are native to Africa and Madagascar, with one of these, the Marula Sclerocarya birrea, occurring in southern Africa.


Members of this genus were formerly placed in the genus Rhus. There are 74 species native to southern Africa.


The only species, the Smodingium argutum (African Poison Oak, Rainbow leaf) is native to southern Africa.


One species native to southern Africa - Sorindeia juglandifolia (recorded from Mozambique).


One species native to southern Africa - Trichoscypha ulugurensis (recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Anacardium (Cashew Nut genus)

The eight species are native to tropical America. The Cashew Nut Anacardium occidentale (see Flora of Zimbabwe) is grown in South Africa but has also become naturalised in parts of subtropical KwaZulu-Natal.

Anacardium occidentale (Cashew Nut)


About 62 species, native to SE Asia. The Mango Mangifera indica (see Flora of Zimbabwe) is cultivated in southern Africa and has also become naturalised in some subtropical forests of KwaZulu-Natal. The Mango is native to Burma and NE India and its cultivation extends back to about 2000 BC.

Schinus (Pepper tree genus)

About 25 species, native to South and Central America. Two species have become naturalised in southern Africa: Schinus molle (Pepper Tree) and Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian Pepper Tree). A further species is cultivated in the region.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Astronium balansae (Red quebracho)

Native from Brazil to Argentina.



Two species cultivated: Cotinus coggygria (Smoke Tree, Venetian sumach) (native from southern Europe to China) and Cotinus obovatus (Chittamwood) (native to the USA).


Lithraea molleoides

Native from Brazil to Argentina. See Wikipedia.



Ten species, native to the Mediterranean, Asia, Malesia, southern USA and Central America. Six species are cultivated in southern Africa including Pistacia vera, which produces Pistachio nuts.

Pleiogynium timoriense (Burdekin plum)

Native from Indonesia to Fiji.


Pseudospondias microcarpa (Musondo)

Native to tropical Africa.


Rhodosphaera rhodanthera (Deep yellow wood)

Native to eastern Australia.


Semecarpus anacardium (Marking nut)

Native to India.


Spondias cythera (Ambarella, Jew's plum, Otaheite apple)

Native to the Society Islands in the South Pacific.



Two species cultivated: Toxicodendron radicans (Poison Ivy) (native to eastern USA and Canada) and Toxicodendron vernicifluum (Lacquer tree, Varnish tree) (native to eastern Asia).



  • Archer, R.H. 2000. Anacardiaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 56-59. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.