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Tree of the Month: Naboom Euphorbia (Euphorbia ingens) Tree no 351
This cactus-like tree is a common sighting on hillsides along the N1 from Johannesburg towards Polokwane. The Naboom Euphorbia is fairly wide-spread throughout the bushveld, preferring well-drained soils.
Significant trees - the list grows
Last month we launched our initiative to compile a list of Significant Indigenous Trees in parks, reserves and wilderness areas throughout the country. The information is steadily filtering through to us, and I have to say that so much of it has been fascinating. Some of the historical facts attached to certain trees have taught me a bit about South African history, and it has been so inspiring to see some of the specimens that truly stand out within their species for whatever reason.
Umbrella Acacia (Acacia tortilis) Tree no 188
The Umbrella Acacia may grow singly or in groups. It often grows in tight groves on old, disturbed sites.
Celebrating Significant Trees
The diversity of flora and fauna in South Africa is surely one of this country’s greatest assets. To have access to the many pristine areas that we do – those beautiful National Parks and Reserves where we can celebrate our plant and animal heritage, has to be one of our biggest privileges.
Lemonwood (Xymalos monospora) Tree no. 111
Lemonwoods occur in tall evergreen forests where there is abundant moisture all year round, often in loosely scattered groups or in dense clusters.
Forest Spoonwood (Cassine peragua) Tree no 414
Forest Spoonwoods often grow in small colonies in shallow soil. They are easiest to find in forests, kloofs and ravines, and in rocky areas where there is sufficient moisture, as well as along rivers.
Tall Firethorn Corkwood (Commiphora glandulosa) Tree no. 285.1
Tall Firethorn Corkwood grows singly, but where one is found there are usually others near by. It generally grows in hot, dry places and prefers well-drained soils, that could be deep and sandy, or in rocky areas.
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.
Mountain Hard-pear (Olinia emarginata) Tree no. 514
Mountain Hard-pear is most common on exposed, rocky hillsides among other smaller vegetation, but may also be found in kloofs and river valleys.
Greenthorn Torchwood (Balanites maughamii) Tree no. 251
Greenthorn Torchwoods commonly grow singly, but large, older trees may be surrounded by groups of smaller, younger trees
African Greenhair-tree (Parkinsonia africana) Tree no 214
African Greenhair-trees grow singly, or as widely scattered individuals, in a landscape that is often devoid of other 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.
Kiaat Bloodwood (Pterocarpus angolensis) Tree no. 236
Growing singly on well-drained soil in areas with rainfall above 500 m, it is easy to find on the crests of granite hills near Pretoriuskop, and in slightly higher altitudes of the Malelane mountains, as well as on the eastern side of the nearby Bushveld.
Natal-mahogany (Trichilia emetica) Tree no. 301
It grows in a wide band in the north-east of South Africa. In KwaZulu-Natal it can be found from Durban northward along the coast.
Bladder-nut (Diospyros whyteana) Tree no. 611
It grows across the eastern half of South Africa, and is one of our most common small trees or woody shrubs.
Stinkwood (Ocotea bullata) Tree no. 118
This is a large, forest-canopy tree with a thick straight trunk. Where one is found, others are usually nearby, if they have not been exploited for timber.
Small-leaved Willow (Salix mucronata) Tree no. 35
It grows singly as well as in small groups, and is easiest to find along streams and rivers, in seepage areas and on wetter rocky hillsides. In these Habitats the tree occurs in an extremely widespread area (almost a rectangle) between the Richtersveld, Johannesburg, Port St. Johns and the Cedarberg.
Weeping Boer-bean (Schotia brachypetala) Tree no. 202
This tree usually grows singly along larger rivers and in higher rainfall areas, often on termite mounds. It occurs throughout the Bushveld and Lowveld as well as down the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal as far south as Port St. Johns.
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.
Small-leaved Yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus) Tree no. 16
Small-leaved Yellowwoods were originally called Outeniqua Geelhout by early foresters in the Cape, from 1711 onwards. The fact that they made superb sleepers for the railways and straight strong ship masts, as well as wonderful furniture, were central to their popularity. Thus hundreds of years of logging, as well as a vastly diminished forest habitat has left relatively few of these magnificent ancient trees to reach a natural end to their potential lifespan of thousands of years.
Bushveld saffron (Elaeodendron transvaalense) Tree no. 416
Bushveld Saffron is one of our most unusual looking trees and therefore easy to recognise for Tree Spotters. The bark and underlying layer have special chemical properties that make it widely used in traditional medicine and in leather tanning. It is under threat because in some areas there is uncontrolled harvesting which can lead to ring-barking and disease or death of the tree.
Assegaai (Curtisia dentata) Tree no. 570
The bark of Assegaai is popular in traditional medicine, particularly for the Zulu people, for the treatment of stomach ailments, diarrhoea and as a blood purifier. It is under threat as in some areas there is uncontrolled harvesting which can lead to ring-barking and disease or death of the tree.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Micro Emotions in Humans : Long-Term Visible Changes in Trees
There is a new Pop science sweeping the worlds’ consciousness recently. It is based on the analysis of micro emotions on peoples’ faces; emotions that are fleeting, but visible to, and decipherable by experts in the field.
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”.
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.
Velvet Bushwillow - Combretum molle (SA Tree Number 537)
Velvet Bushwillow is common in the Highveld, Bushveld and northern KwaZulu-Natal. It does not usually grow in groups, but where there is one there are often others nearby.
Sausage-Tree -Kigelia africana (SA Tree number 678)
Sausage-tree is essentially moisture–loving and occurs along rivers and streams, on termite mounds and in areas of higher rainfall. It is an eastern species running in a northward direction from Durban, up through KwaZulu-Natal, and the Lowveld and into the north-eastern Bushveld.