The tree grows up to 20 feet (6 metres) tall and has rough, dark-grey bark. It has long, green shiny leaves and thorny branches. The tree can reproduce itself by seed (it grows true to seed), or via root suckers. It flowers August to October.
The fruit is not very big, only about 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) long. It will ripen to orange, or red with white spots, or yellow, depending on the variety. An Ethiopian variety goes yellow. There will be 1 seed in each fruit.
The pulp is bitter and tart. The seed is edible. Birds love this fruit.
Peel before eating and discard the skin. The fruit is best left to overripen a bit before using for jam, jelly or fresh-eating.
In Zulu, the fruit is called “umThunduluka-obmvu”.
The scientific name “Ximenia caffra”comes from a Spanish monk named Francisco Ximenez , and from the word Kaffraria, an old word for part of the Eastern Cape of South Africa