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One of the surest ways to promote the knowledge and love of indigenous trees is by placing some sort of tag or plaque on or near them, showing their common and botanical names, and perhaps providing some further information about the tree. We have just celebrated Arbor Week, and in this month’s blog we are going to suggest that we keep the ‘tree-loving’ momentum going by encouraging the tagging of trees.
Celebrating Arbor Day with Trees of the Year
It’s that wonderful time of the year again when we are all called on to actively celebrate our indigenous trees. It’s Arbor Week, when from the 1st to the 7th September, we are all encouraged to get involved in anything to do with trees. So this month I thought it would be interesting to talk about the origins of Arbor Week, as well as the “Trees of the Year” that have become so closely associated with it, and the significance that both continue to play in our lives.
License Application Procedures
The main objective of the National Forests Act, 1998, is to promote the sustainable management and development of forests and to protect certain forests and trees. This is provided through the protection of all natural forests, and all trees declared to be protected in terms of the Act, as well as the regulation of certain activities in a proclaimed State forest. It should be noted that additional environmental legislation, administered by other State Departments, also regulates natural resources.
Cheesewood (Pittosporum viridiflorum) Tree no. 139
Cheesewood grows singly among other species of trees, across a wide range of altitudes up to ± 1 800 metres above sea level. They grow in protected rocky and riverine habitats in kloofs, as well as in forests and the forest margins of Kloofs.
Grey Camel-thorn Acacia (Acacia haematoxylon) Tree no. 169
This tree only grows in a small distribution area in South Africa, where in fact there are relatively few other trees of any substantial height. It is often in the same localities as another protected tree, Camel-thorn Acacia Acacia erioloba, and both need to have their harvesting controlled for the braaiwood industry.
My aim in this blog always is to instill a love of trees and to develop an awareness of how important they are to our overall well-being. This month I have decided to concentrate specifically on the 47 indigenous tree species that have been given protected status in this country, and the laws and procedures that are in place to secure the proper management of their sustainability.
In the Lowveld we have two Rhus, Searsia species this month where the leaflets have toothed/serrated/indented edges (margins). These are Nana Currant-rhus and Rock Karee-rhus.
In all four of the Bushveld Rhus, Searsia species covered this month, the leaflets have toothed/serrated/indented edges (margins). These are Rock Karee-rhus, Bi-coloured-rhus, Nana Currant-rhus and Rolled Currant-rhus.
The two Rhus, Searsia species in the Cape North this month each have some form of spiny branchlet, or short stiff spur-branchlets, which are sometimes spine-tipped. These are Rolled-leaf Currant-rhus and Namaqua Kuni-rhus.
Four Rhus, Searsia species are covered in the Cape South this month and all of them have both firm, leathery leaves and angular or spur-like/spine-tipped branchlets. These are Rub-rub Currant-rhus, Winged Currant-rhus, Blue Kuni-rhus and Namaqua Kuni-rhus.
Highveld and Drakensberg
In the Highveld this month we have four Rhus, Searsia species that each has a distinctive feature that helps to separate them from other Rhus’. Bi-coloured Currant-rhus has branchlets that are red and hairy; Ribbed Kuni-rhus has central veins on the leaflets that are ridged on both surfaces and the lateral veins are dark, and more visible above than below; Broom Karee-rhus has lime-olive-khaki-green leaflets covered in a shiny resin; and Drakensberg Karee-rhus is alone in South Africa in this genus, in not always having three-leaflet leaves. They can be 5- or 7- leaflet, but still look quite 'Rhus-like'.
KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape
In KwaZulu-Natal this month we have four Rhus, Searsia species that each has a distinctive feature that helps to separate them from other Rhus’. Ribbed Kuni-rhus has central veins on the leaflets that are ridged on both surfaces and the lateral veins are dark, and more visible above than below; The leaflets of Nana Currant-rhus have unusually deeply indented edges (margins) thus the name dentate – toothed; Blue-fruit Currant-rhus obviously has fruit which mature to deep blue; and Drakensberg Karee-rhus is alone in South Africa in this genus in not always having three-leaflet leaves. They can be 5- or 7- leaflet, but still look quite 'Rhus-like'.
ID TREES EASILY
Again this month we are concentrating on Rhus, Searsia species and in this educational section we are highlighting a quick overview to help you to recognise the various types of Rhus.
Three of the Bushveld Rhus, Searsia species covered this month can have spines, especially when the trees are young. These are Thorny Karee-rhus, Red Currant-rhus and Crowberry Currant-rhus. The fourth Rhus has leaves that are covered in a shiny resin, which becomes waxy and glossy, and is aptly named Waxy Currant-rhus.
The three Rhus species in the Cape North this month have differently shaped leaflets. Karoo-kuni Rhus has egg-shaped leaflets with square tips. The leaflets of Dune Currant-rhus are widely egg-shaped to elliptic with a sharp tip. White Karee-rhus has long narrow leaflets with sharp tips..
The distribution of the four Rhus, Searisa species in Cape South is widespread. Willow Karee-rhus is a specialist at the tip of the continent only. Dune Currant-rhus is a Cape coastal species extending from north of Springbok round to south-west of East London. Red Currant-rhus and Waxy Currant-rhus have far greater distributions, both being eastern South African species, extending their range from fairly close to Cape Town all the way to north of Polokwane in the Bushveld.
In the Lowveld we have three of the largest of the Rhus, Searsia species covered in the blog this month. Red Currant-rhus can grow to 4 metres (and more in KwaZulu-Natal), Waxy Currant-rhus is also a 4 m tree, while in the right circumstances Crowberry Currant-rhus can become 5 m tall.
In the Highveld this month we have three Rhus, Searsia species that tend to have spines, particularly when they are young, namely Red Currant-rhus, Thorny Karee-rhus and Crowberry Currant-rhus. The fourth Rhus occurs on the western edge of the Highveld and into the dry areas of the Karoo, and boasts square-ended leaflets covered in shiny resin as their distinctive feature.
Three of the KwaZulu-Natal Rhus, Searsia species covered this month can have spines, especially when the trees are young. These are Red Currant-rhus, Thorny Karee-rhus, and Crowberry Currant-rhus. The fourth Rhus has leaves that are covered in a shiny resin, which becomes waxy and glossy, and is aptly named Waxy Currant-rhus.
Tree ID made Easy June 2010
This month we are taking a break from looking at Habitats in order to complete the information on the Rhus genus, discussed in the main blog. It is probably easier if you read the main blog first. In that text I mention that Rhus are now called Searsia botanically, and that this genus is part of the Mango, Anacardaceae Family. There are a number of fascinating things about both the genus, Rhus, Searsia, and the family Mango, Anacardaceae.
Searching for Rhus around South Africa
This month I have chosen to concentrate on the idea of identifying trees the Sappi Tree Spotting way, and the trees I have chosen are all Rhus, now scientifically called Searsia. In many parts of South Africa it is hardly possible to drive 50 kilometers, without coming across a 'typical' Rhus-bush on the verge of the road. Fed by the extra water running off the tarred surface, and protected from browsing by the fences, they flourish where many other woody species are non-existent. They are a constant source of delight and intrigue, often in landscapes that lack a variety of other larger woody species.
Names of Indigenous Trees
Most of the contents of these blogs have been chatty and without ‘botanical-political’ impetus. This month I wanted to talk about our most ubiquitous genus Acacia, but as I started, I found I was drowning in the ramifications of tree names and their alternatives and recent changes. It therefore seems a good time to address this hoary chestnut in the world of botany.
Black-thorn Acacia Acacia mellifera Tree No. 176
Black-thorn Acacia is the most prevalent smaller, woody species in the northern Cape, and eastward into the northern Bushveld.
ID TREES EASILY - HABITATS
In Sappi Tree Spotting terms, most Habitats are relatively small areas which are easy for Tree Spotters to recognise because they are formed by significant, visible, physical features such as rocks, a river, or a ravine, or even the absence of such features. Sometimes, as in Forests, Thickets or Desert, the Habitats are created by the vegetation, or lack of it. When we are looking at Grassland Plains, Karoo Plains, Desert or Mountain Slopes, these Habitats can be much larger in size, but are still easy to identify by name. Coastal Dunes and Rivers can obviously stretch for many kilometres too.
Follow the Ancient ways
When I meet strangers, in those initial exchanges about ourselves, I inevitably admit to my passion for indigenous trees, right up front. I suppose I am constantly looking for soul mates who share my sense of wonder about our natural, woody world. Regrettably, the most typical kind of response I seem to encounter is “Mmmm... but trees are so hard to get to know”.
Wild-Peach Kiggelaria africana SA Tree no 494
Wild-peach is very widespread throughout the eastern half of South Africa. Where you find one, others are usually close by.
Wild-Almond Brabejum stellatifolium Tree no 72
Wild-almond is found only in the Mountains in the southwestern tip of South Africa.
Candle-pod Acacia Acacia hebeclada Tree no 170
Candle-pod Acacia may grow in huge, dense clumps that can be derived from a single plant. Scattered individuals can grow as a broken fringe along the banks of Drainage lines.
Common Wild Fig Ficus burkei Tree no 48
The Common Wild Fig grows singly. It is easiest to find as a large tree on the Plains of the Bushveld, through the more western part of the Lowveld and right down the eastern side of KwaZulu-Natal into the Eastern Cape. It is not a specific water-lover, but it will not grow where the rainfall is too low, nor where fire is a common feature.
Climbing Flat-Bean Dalbergia obovata Tree no 235
The Climbing Flat-bean is an eastern species occurring from the coast inland to the mountains.
Purple-pod Cluster-Leaf Terminalia prunioides Tree no 550
The Purple-pod Cluster-leaf grows in loose groups on rocky and mountainous soils and in deep alluvial sand.
Tree spotting considering the flowers, their shapes, names and families!
Last month’s blog was based on the usefulness of flowers in helping us to identify trees. In ID TREES EASILY we included a diagram of the various parts of a flower, alongside our Trees of the Month.
The shape of things - Identifying the form of indigenous trees in southern Africa
One of ther easiest, most striking feature of any tree is its trunk and these characteristic forms of sourthern Africa indigenous tree trunks and branching patterns can help you to identify indigenous trees.
Robust Acacia - Acacia robusta (National Tree Spotting Tree no 183)
Robust Acacias Acacia robusta are one of my favourite trees, because of the robust way that it reaches high into the sky with strong, upright branches. Historically it was called the Splendid Acacia, which is a really good name – but I personally call it the Halleluja Acacia for the way its sturdy main branches (arms) reach upwards, as if giving thanks!
The branchlets and twigs have two features that make them even more distinctive in the winter. They have conspicuous, dark, prickly, cushion-like thickenings at the base of straight, pale thorns, and the twigs tend to zigzag at these same points, giving the canopy a characteristic spikey outline.
Cape Willow - Salix mucronata (National Tree Spotting Tree no 35)
To find Cape Wilows Salix mucronata start looking along a pristine river. Often you will find these indigenous trees in closely grouped clusters, literally on the river bank. In places, the roots could actually be in the water. When they are leafless you can still recognise them easily by their bark. Young bark is smooth and greenish grey, and the branchlets and twigs are often pinky-red. Older bark becomes rougher and browner, with deep lengthways fissures and narrow peeling flakes.