Tree to 6 m tall; d.b.h. to 15 cm; bark grey, striate, with white lenticels; young branches drying black, glabrous or sometimes sparsely covered with short appressed hairs. Petioles ca. 4 mm long, ca. 0.8 mm in diameter, glabrous, leaf lamina inserted on the side, broadly grooved adaxially. Leaf lamina 8-10 cm long, 4-6 cm wide, length:width ratio 2.5-3, narrowly elliptic to elliptic, base cuneate, apex acuminate, acumen 1-2 cm long, glabrous adaxially, abaxial surface glabrous or sparsely covered with short appressed hairs in younger leaves, papyraceous; midrib glabrous, rarely sparsely hairy when young on both sides; secondary veins 9-11 pairs, uniformally curving upwards, glabrous. Flowers single, leaf-opposed, pendulous. Flowering pedicels 15-35 mm long, ca. 0.5 mm in diameter, glabrous. Upper bract inserted in upper half of pedicel, curving upwards, 4-6 mm long, 6-9 mm wide, length:width ratio 1-2, very broadly ovate to ovate, base auriculate-clasping, apex acute, glabrous on both surfaces, the margins straight with straight white hairs. Sepals 6-12 mm long, 4-8 mm wide, length:width ratio ca. 1.5, triangular to ovate, base truncate, apex rounded, glabrous on both surfaces, green, reflexed, margins straight, densely covered with short curly hairs. Outer petals 15-25 mm long, 6-12 mm wide, length:width ratio 1.5-2.5, oblong to elliptic, apex acuminate and reflexed upwards when at anthesis, both surfaces glabrous, margins undulate, sometimes very sparsely covered with short curly hairs, creamy yellow with red spots on both sides. Inner petals 6-8 mm long, 6-14 mm wide, length:width ratio 0.6-0.5, clawed ovate, base obtuse, apex acuminate, both surfaces glabrous, same color as outer petals, connivent by tip over receptacle, margins straight, densely covered with curly short hairs; claw 3-5 mm long, claw:inner petal ratio 0.6-0.8, glabrous. Receptacle ca. 5 mm in diameter, flat to slightly convex. Stamens in 6-7 rows, ca. 0.8, mm long, connective shield ca. 0.1 mm long, covered with short straight white hairs, those of inner whorl not elongated over ovary wall. Ovary 1-2 mm long, ca. 1 mm in diameter; stigma ca. 2 mm in diameter, glabrous, light yellow. Fruits unknown.
Monodora carolinae is characterized by its small flowers, hairy sepal margins, flat receptacle and glabrous pedicel. It would appear from field observations to grow in sympatry with M. minor.
EN B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii). Monodora carolinae is represented in herbaria by only seven collections, none of them from protected areas. Most of the collections come from the Kiwengoma forest in the Matumbi hills. This region is not protected and suffers from intensive fire wood logging. Three collections were made recently (2006). The category “endangered” is therefore appropriate.
Molecular data indicate that this species is most closely related to M. stenopetala, but both species are not, however, morphologically similar.
South-eastern Tanzania and north-eastern Mozambique; in moist semi-deciduous coastal forests, on deep leached sandy soils; at 50-800 m altitude.