(Cryptocarya wyliei)

A portion of red quince tree

Family: Lauraceae.

Common names: Red-haired laurel, rooikweper, umNgcabe, umNqayane.

Red quince is a beautiful tree from Africa bearing bright red edible fruits scattered among the tiny green leaves.

Fruits of red quince


Red quince is a shrub or a small tree ranging from 2 to 6 m in evergreen forests along the coast. The main stem is greyish and the branch tips and leaf buds are covered with coppery hairs. The leaves are small and green on the upper surface, and the under surface is a silvery blue with rust-coloured/coppery hairs along the midrib and veins.

The leaves are tiny with a relatively broad base that taper towards the tips as the margin rolls under.

Red quince shoots

Flowers are very small, white, covered with coppery hairs.


Flowers of red quince

Fruit are bright red, ripening.


The fruits are edible.

Concoctions and infusions of the bark are often used to treat headaches, urinary disorders, stomach complications, as well as emotional and nervous disorders. It is also said to be an effective remedy for treating infantile diarrhea.


This plant can be grown from seed and cuttings. Remove the seeds from the fleshy pulp of the ripe fruit. Sow the cleaned seeds in a sandy loam soil mix in a seed tray and cover with pieces of bark. Store the tray in a warm, moist place. This should ensure germination in about four to six weeks.

Red quince can also be grown from cuttings in summer. This can be done by dipping the cutting in a rooting hormone mixture to promote rooting. Thereafter, place the cutting in a bark and polystyrene mix.

The red quince makes a decorative understorey for a forest garden.


Naidoo & H.F. Glen
Kwazulu Natal Herbarium, Durban
South Africa