Characteristics of Voa Vanguer Tree (Vangueria spinosa) in the Wild

Vangueria spinosa
Voa vanguer or Malagasy is a genus of flowering plants in the Rubiaceae family. In the genus Vangueria, there are more than 50 species whose main distribution is in southern Africa and one species in Madagascar.

Voa vanguer trees are found in East Africa, in Kenya and Tanzania to be precise. However, this tree is rarely found in West Africa.

In the leaves of this tree, there are endophytic bacteria lodged in the intercellular mesophyll tissue. The presence of these bacteria can only be seen under a microscope because of their very, very small size.

The endophytic bacteria present in the leaves of Voa vanguer are identified as Burkholderia, which are bacteria that often nest in the leaves of plants from other genera Rubiaceae. The hypothesis is that these endophytic bacteria provide chemical protection against herbivorous insects.

Every part of the Vangueria latifolia, Vangueria pygmaea, and Vangueria thamnus trees is known to contain dangerous toxins if consumed by humans. These toxins can cause gousiecte and ruminant cardiotoxicosis, which is characterized by heart failure of 4-8 weeks.

The best-known species is Vangueria infausta, this tree is common in South Africa. It grows as a small tree and deciduous as high as 3-7 meters with yellowish-gray or brownish bark. The fruits are round, shiny dark green when young, and when ripe they turn light brown.


Characteristics of Voa Vanguer Leaf

Vangueria spinosa Leaf
Source : McCleland

The leaves are simple, large, wide, shiny green.


Characteristics of Voa Vanguer Flower

Vangueria spinosa Flower
Source :

The flowers are white and appear in clusters, branched or under the leaves.


Characteristics of Voa Vanguer Fruit

Vangueria spinosa Fruit
Source : Pereira-Nunes

The fruit is round, dark green, and shiny.


Characteristics of Voa Vanguer Tree

Vangueria spinosa Tree
Source :

Voa vanguer is a tree that grows a lot as a shrub or small tree with large leaves. Its height in the wild is between 4-6 meters, but in some suitable places it can reach up to 10 meters.

The tree is very tough and withstands long drought and cold temperatures, but does not withstand frost.

Several species of Vangueria, especially Vangueria spinosa are used in the subject of bonsai because of their characteristics.


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