African Mangosteen

African Mangosteen
Setswana Name: 
Scientific Name: 
Garcinia livingstonei
St. John's Wort Family (Clusiaceae)


This water-loving tree is majestic and proud in appearance and can grow up to 18m. It is easily identifiable at a distance because of the bare, evenly sectioned yellowish-grey stem, contrasting sharply with the very dark, dense crown. The trunk is often multi-stemmed, spreading upwards in a narrow V-formation. The crown always has some rigid branches rising above it at an acute angle. The new branchlets and the leaves are invariably in verticils (arrangements around the same point) of three.

The shiny, dark green, leathery leaves with prominent yellow veining are diagnostic. Almost all the trees in the riverine woodland are deciduous, with this evergreen species being one of the few exceptions. When bearing fruit, the tree is easily recognised by its pinky-orange, oval, grape-sized fruit.


Old bark is dark grey, but the overall impression is of a light yellow-grey. The bark is sub-divided into small, regular sections.


Like the branches, the leaves are usually borne in verticils of three. Simple, elliptic, 9 x 3cm, but vary in size. Young leaves are bright red, while old leaves are very dark green, shiny, leathery, glabrous, with prominent yellow-green veins on the upper side.


Very small, pale to yellow-green. Borne in groups in the leaf axils. Male flowers resemble pincushions and bisexual flowers are green with shiny ovaries. The two sexes are borne on separate trees. Contain abundant nectar.


Globose to ovoid berries, about 2,5cm in diametre, orange-red when ripe. Usually one, sometimes two seeds per fruit.


August to November


November to February