Deinbollia oblongifolia

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Dune Soap-berry
Deinbollia oblongifolia Pipeline.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Deinbollia
Species: D. oblongifolia
Binomial name
Deinbollia oblongifolia
(E. May. ex Arn.) Radlk.

Hippobromus oblongifolius

Deinbollia oblongifolia is a shrub or small tree in the family Sapindaceae. It is commonly known as the Dune Soap-berry and is found in coastal vegetation from the Eastern Cape of South Africa, through KwaZulu-Natal[1] to southern Mozambique and Swaziland.


These plants can grow up to 9 m tall.[1] The stem often branches low down and the bark is grey-brown in colour. The leaves are compound, up to 500 mm long and clustered at the ends of the branches.[1] The flowers are white[1] or cream[2] in colour, and produced on branched flowering heads at the ends of the branches.[1] The fruit are rounded; green and velvety when young to yellow and smooth when ripe.[1] The Dune Soap-berry may be confused with a young Forest Mahogany (Trichilia dregeana) because of the similar shaped compound leaves, however the Dune Soap-berry has paler green slightly matt leaves compared to the Forest Mahogany, which has a darker green leaf that is slightly more glossy.[2] The leaves of the Dune Soap-berry are also hard textured (when mature) and not held flat as in Trichilia dregeana.[1]


The fruit are eaten by people.[1][2] The leaves can be eaten as spinach, and the seeds can be lathered in water and used as soap (hence the name "soap-berry").[2] The roots are used in traditional Zulu medicine for stomach complaints.[1] These shrubs are also valuable garden plants, especially in wildlife gardens.[2]

Ecological Significance[edit]

The flowers attract hordes of insects[3] including; moths, butterflies, bees, wasps, ants[1] and beetles. The leaves are fed on by the larvae of several butterflies, including; Gold-banded Forester (Euphaedra neophron), Forest Queen (Euxanthe wakefieldi) and the Purple-brown Hairstreak (Hypolycaena philippus).[4] Various Deudorix butterfly species' larvae also feed on these trees,[3] including the larvae of the Black-and-orange Playboy (Deudorix dariaves)[2] and the Apricot Playboy (Deudorix dinochares)[5] which both eat the fruits of Deinbollia oblongifolia. The larvae of the African Peach Moth (Egybolis vaillantina) also feed on the leaves,[5][6] and the fruit are also eaten by birds (including the Sombre Greenbul (Andropadus importunus)[2]) and monkeys.[1] Charaxes butterflies feed on the fermenting fruits,[2] and the Green-veined Charaxes (Charaxes candiope), Pearl Charaxes (Charaxes ), Satyr Charaxes (Charaxes ethalion), Forest-king Charaxes (Charaxes xiphares), White-barred Charaxes (Charaxes brutus) and the Natal Tree Nymph (Sevenia natalensis) have all been observed feeding on the sap of Deinbollia oblongifolia.[5] Furthermore these trees are browsed by game animals.[1]


Compound leaves 
Compound leaves 
Fruit and branches 
Green fruit 
Ripe fruit 
Telchinia encedon on flowers of Deinbollia oblongifolia 
Leptotes pirithous on the flowers 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Pooley, E. (1993). The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei. ISBN 0-620-17697-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Nichols, G (2009). Dune Soap-berry Deinbollia oblongifolia:, retrieved 3 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b Quickelberge, C. (1986). A Wildlife Handbook; Familiar South African Butterflies. ISBN 0-949966-95-9
  4. ^ Williams, M. (1994). Butterflies of Southern Africa; A Field Guide. ISBN 1-86812-516-5
  5. ^ a b c Biodiversity data provided by: Data contributors to the Southern African Butterfly Conservation Assessment (SABCA) (list of contributors accessible here:, a joint project of the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town, and the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa (accessed via SABCA’s online virtual museum,, 3 January 2010).
  6. ^ Boon, R. (2010). Pooley's Trees of Eastern South Africa; A Complete Guide. ISBN 978-0-620-46019-4.

See also[edit]