Gardenia thunbergia is a sturdy large shrub or small tree endemic to the Southern and Eastern regions of South Africa and neighbouring territories such as Swaziland. It grows largely in forest or on forest margins, occurring in the Eastern Cape, Natal and Transkei in South Africa.
It is densely twiggy and rigid with smooth light-grey bark, and is horticulturally valuable, being easy to grow as a strong hedge, but more usually as a specimen plant, striking in appearance and long-lived. The abundant and extremely fragrant flowers are about 70mm in diameter with long tubes only accessible to the proboscides of nocturnal hawkmoths.
The leaves are smooth, shiny, whorled and entire, and clustered at the ends of branchlets. The fruit is oval, hard, woody and fibrous, about 80mm long and about 40mm in diameter, light-grey with small raised white spots and if not eaten by large browsers or elephant, will remain on the tree for years.
Its common names include Forest Gardenia, Mutarara (in the Shona language), Tree Gardenia, White Gardenia and Wild Gardenia. In Afrikaans it is variously known as Buffelsbol ("buffalo ball), Stompdoring ("blunt thorn"), or Wildekatjiepiering ("wild gardenia").
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.