A small, unusual and rewarding, standard, rounded, evergreen shrub with fragrant white flowers that are produced in small clusters at the ends of the branches.
The stem is quite straight and slender. The leaves are opposite, leathery, shiny dark green above and paler beneath.
The heavily scented yellowish white flowers are in compact, terminal clusters at the ends of the branches and appear throughout the year. Fruit is paired, woody capsules that are held erect on the twigs, splitting open on the plant and releasing a number of papery-winged seeds. The wood is light yellow-brown, heavy and hard and is used for engraving and for fine inlay work.
It is found in evergreen forest and in scrub forest on cliff edges and is seldom far from the coast. It is endemic to Eastern Cape.
Gonioma comes from the Greek word gonia, meaning angle because of the fruit that protrudes at right-angles to the stalk; kamassi is derived from the Khoisan name for this species.
Insects are attracted to the fragrance of this plant. The milky latex contained by the leaves fools an animal into quickly feeling full. If the grazer persists, the latex makes it feel sick and dizzy. The seed capsules split lengthways on ripening to release papery-winged seed, thus dispersing the seed.
This is a lovely shade tree for small gardens. It is ideal for tall hedges.
Gonioma kamassi is grown from seed. Seed is sown in a well-drained medium of fine sifted soil with river sand. Seed trays are placed in a warm position to optimize germination. Requires a sunny or semi shade, sheltered position and will perform well when mulched thickly with good compost, watered regularly and fed with a high nitrogen, organic or chemical fertilizer. It only really thrives in a warm, well-watered situation.