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Warburgia salutaris - (G.Bertol.) Chiov.

Common Name Pepperbark Tree
Family Canellaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Savannah woodland, coastal forest and Afromontane forest[338 ]. Lower rainforests, drier highland forest areas, and in secondary bushlands and grasslands at elevations from 1,000 - 2,000 metres[392 ].
Range Southern Africa - Zimbabwe, Mozambique, S. Africa.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Warburgia salutaris Pepperbark Tree

Warburgia salutaris Pepperbark Tree


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Warburgia salutaris or commonly known in various names such as Pepperbark Tree, Fever Plant, and Pepper Root is a fairly slow-growing, evergreen tree growing about 10 m high and can usually be found in Southern Africa. It has a dense and rounded crown. The leaves are simple, olive green, and arranged alternately. The flowers are small, green, and occur in the axils of leaves. Each flower has 10 yellow-green petals. The fruits are rounded berries that are dark green in color but turn purple upon ripening. Pepperbark tree is widely used as a herbal remedy in Southern Africa. It is used in the treatment for malaria, colds, chest pains, coughs, diarrhea, muscle pains, stomach pains, general body pains, common cold, spots in the lungs, malaria, mouth sores, and clogged sinuses. The leaves are used to flavor soups and curries and as a tea. The bark contains mannitol. Pepperbark tree is also grown as a hedge plant and a shade tree in coffee, banana, and cocoa plantations. Due to the plant?s capability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, it is also used as green manure and mulch. The bark is a source of tannins and resin. The wood is oily, aromatic, and not durable. It is occasionally used for construction, furniture, tools, and for fuel and charcoal. W. salutaris is currently threatened by habitat loss.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Warburgia salutaris is an evergreen Tree growing to 8 m (26ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Chibaca salutaris G.Bertol. Warburgia breyeri R.Pott


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark  Leaves
Edible Uses:

The leaves are used to flavour soups and curries[392 ]. The leaves have a bitter, burning, aromatic taste[295 , 303 ]. The leaves are used as a tea[303 ]. The bark contains mannitol[303 ].


Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Pepperbark tree is a widely used herbal remedy in southern Africa. The inner bark has many uses as a treatment for malaria, colds, chest pains, coughs, diarrhoea, muscle pains, stomach aches, and general body pains[392 ]. The pepper-like, bitter stems and root bark are used to cure a wide range of ailments. They are used as an expectorant to treat the common cold. Taken orally are believed to cure spots in the lungs[295 ]. Both stems and root bark are a remedy for malaria[295 ]. Powdered and mixed with water, they are believed to cure sores in the mouth[295 ]. Dried and ground, they are taken as a snuff to clear the sinuses[295 ].


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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: A suitable plant for growing as a hedge as it responds well to pruning[295 ]. An attractive, dense hedge[418 ]. The tree can be intercropped to provide shade in coffee, banana and cocoa plantations[418 ]. The plant is nitrogen fixing and can be used for green manure and mulch[392 ]. It also provides good shade[392 ]. Other Uses A resin can be extracted from the bark[303 , 418 ]. The bark is a source of tannins[303 , 418 ]. The heartwood is dark yellowish-brown; the sapwood light yellow. The wood is oily, aromatic, and pale, darkening with exposure to the air. It saws and polishes well but is not durable. It is occasionally used for construction, furniture and tools[295 , 303 , 392 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[303 , 392 , 418 ].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

A plant of the tropics, where it is found at elevations from 1,000 - 2,200 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 5 - 25°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[418 ]. The plant cannot tolerate frosts[295 , 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 - 1,750mm, but tolerates 10 - 35mm[303 , 418 ]. Requires a sunny position[418 ]. Grows in well-drained soil, with good aeration. The soil should be rich in organic matter in the form of well-rotted compost[295 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[418 ]. Established plants are moderately drought tolerant[418 ]. A fairly slow-growing tree[392 ]. Trees can be coppiced[392 ]. The tree is aromatic, with a peppery aroma[303 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[418 ].


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Seed - it has a very short viability and should be sown as soon as it is removed from the seed[392 ]. Sow in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed. A germination rate of around 80% can be expected[392 ]. Cuttings

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chibaha, Isibaha, Muranga, isibhaha, peperbasboom, pepperbark tree, pfefferrindebaum, warburgia, warburgia.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Mozambique; South Africa; Swaziland; Zimbabwe, Africa, East Africa, Malawi, South Africa, Southern Africa, Swaziland.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Endangered A1acd

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Expert comment


(G.Bertol.) Chiov.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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