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Afrocarpus falcatus (Outeniqua yellowwood, Small-leaved yellowwood)

[= Podocarpus falcatus]

Outeniekwageelhout [Afrikaans]; umKoleya, umGeya [Xhosa]; umSonti, umGeya [Zulu]; umSonti [Swazi]; Mogôbagôba [North Sotho]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Gymnospermae > Coniferophyta > Podocarpaceae > Afrocarpus

Crown of a large Outeniqua yellowwood on Kom-se-Pad, near Knysna, July 2006, festooned with Usnea (old man's beard) lichen. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Afrocarpus falcatus (Outeniqua yellowwood), Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail, January 2010. [photo H. Robertson ©]

Afrocarpus falcatus in fruit at Rondebossie Hut, Outeniqua Hiking Trail, December 2008 (top), and in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, July 2005 (bottom). [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©].

Trunk of Afrocarpus falcatus, showing distinctive flaky bark; Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail, January 2010. [photo H. Robertson ©]

Leaves of Afrocarpus falcatus. Scale is in millimeters.

Regarded as the tallest tree that is native to southern Africa with trees evidently reaching 60 m in height. The "Big Trees" that are popular tourist attractions in the Knysna region of the Western Cape and western Eastern Cape are all Outeniqua yellowwoods. Some of these are featured on a separate page (see here) but the tallest of these is only 46 m in height.

Distribution and habitat

Grows in afromontane forest from the Swellendam district of the Western Cape through to Limpopo and southern Mozambique.

Ecological relationships


The large size of Outeniqua yellowwoods makes them an ideal protected place for Chacma baboons to sleep the night in places where there are no cliff faces. These baboons were photographed in the evening, preparing noisely to sleep the night in this tree; Platbos Hut, Outeniqua Hiking Trail, December 2008. [photo H. Robertson ©]

  • Fruit are eaten by:
  • The tree is used as:
    • a substrate for Usnea (old man's beard) lichens. These lichens hang down from the branches and are a very distinctive feature of Afrocarpus falcatus trees.
    • a sleeping place at night for Chacma baboons (see photograph above).


  • The fine-grained, pale yellow wood is used these days mainly for making furniture and for building boats. In the past it was also used for floors, ceilings and the masts and yards of ships. The wood tends to have a spiral grain (see twisting of trunk in photo above), which means that it tends to warp if it has not been seasoned properly.
  • Grown as a garden ornamental tree.



  • Esterhuyse, N., von Breitenbach, J. and Söhnge, H. 2001. Remarkable Trees of South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
  • Palgrave, K.C. and Palgrave, M.C. 2002. Trees of Southern Africa. 3rd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  • Palmer, E. and Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of Southern Africa covering all known indigenous species in the Republic of South Africa, South-West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Volume 1. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.
  • van Wyk, B. and van Wyk, P. 1997. Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.

Text by Hamish Robertson

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