Gardenia thunbergia is a sturdy shrub or small tree (to 6-10’ Feet) endemic to the Southern and Eastern regions of South Africa and neighboring territories such as Swaziland. It grows largely in forest or on forest margins, occurring in the Eastern Cape, Natal and Transkei in South Africa. A specimen plant, striking in appearance and long-lived.
The abundant and extremely fragrant saucer shaped flowers are about 3-4” inches in diameter. Will scent a whole greenhouse when in bloom. The leaves are smooth, shiny, and about 6” inches long. The fruit is oval, hard, woody and fibrous, will remain on the tree for years. Full sun is best, good soil doesn’t hurt, regular feeding, especially while young, and a nice layer of much is also a good idea. Does well in containers as well.
Its common names include Wild Starry Gardenia, Mutarara (in the Shona language), Tree Gardenia and Wild Gardenia. In Afrikaans it is variously known as Buffelsbol ("buffalo ball), Stompdoring ("blunt thorn"), or Wildekatjiepiering. Plant is considered critically endangered. Zone 8B+ , container or Bonsai.