Gymnosporia heterophylla (Common Spike-thorn) is a small, hardy, deciduous African tree up to 5m tall, occurring in rocky places with a wide distribution.
It makes a very effective, fast-growing security hedge. The wood is hard and durable, suitable for carving, though large pieces are not often available.
It has a straggly, but rigid habit and is armed with sharp straight thorns up to 100mm long, which are modified branches. Bark on the mature trunk is grey-brown and deeply fissured. The tree is dioecious, and clusters of white flowers are produced in profusion in spring and are borne on thicker twigs and branches. The flowers have a fetid, faecal smell and attract large numbers of pollinating insects,