It is native to Southern Africa, including Southern Angola, Zambia, Southern Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Northern South Africa. It grows in alkaline(high lime content) soils which are shallow and not well drained. It also grows in alluvial soils (soil deposited by rivers). Where it occurs, it is often the dominant tree species, frequently forming homogeneous stands. In Northern South Africa and larger adjacent areas of Botswana and Zimbabwe, the trees tend to vary between 4 and 18 m (13 and 59 ft), often called "mopane scrub" (shrub) but also sometimes taller and forming woodland. Further north the trees are taller and form tall woodlands referred to as cathedral mopane. This tree does not grow well outside hot, frost-free areas with summer rainfall.

Colophospermum mopane

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