This shrub or small tree is native from Angola to KwaZulu-Natal. This species has fragrant white blossoms turning yellow with time. Gardenia volkensii ssp. spathulifolia has long narrow leaves, with wavy margins - very curious plant.
Woody seed pods remain on the branches.
Gardenia thunbergia is often confused with Gardenia volkensii, it may be distinguished from the Transvaal Gardenia, by the fact that its fruits are not ribbed. The fruits and roots are used in the treatment of a variety of ailments, including asthma, infertility, earache, sore eyes, epilepsy and headache. Ashes from burnt roots are placed on the chest as a treatment for pneumonia. Some local people also believe that this shrub will protect them from lightning.