GREAT NEWS: Kim and Cecile have a bonny daughter Elise Marguerite on 9.4.94 in Norway.
Tuesday 3rd May. Botanic Garden Walk at 4.45 for 5 p.m. Park at the Herbarium where we will meet Mr. Tom Muller.
Sunday 15th May 1994. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. The AGM this year will be held in a rural setting i.e. on the banks of the dam at Chipping Estate, in Teviotdale. Please bring your chair and a teacup, as tea or coffee will be served before the meeting. Once again, we would be very grateful for contributions of eats for tea. After the meeting there is some very nice unspoilt woodland to walk through, and kopies to climb for the energetic. Tea will be served at 9.30 a.m. and the meeting starts at 10 a.m.
Saturday 28th May. Botanic Interest Walk at 3 p.m. Please contact Mark Hyde for the venue of today’s walk.
Tuesday 7th June. Botanic Garden Walk.
Sunday 1st May. This is the rescheduled visit to the Brownlee-Walkers of Greenland Farm. Make plans for an all-day visit, meeting at Girls’ College car park for a prompt 8.30 departure.
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 1993 / 94
Although we as a society are very much in the amateur league it is important to remember that it is the individuals within the Tree Society who provide an environment that embraces many facets of interest from the fascinating world of botany to those who really enjoy the bush walks. With the constant hurly- burly of our modern life, the easy learning attitude of the society makes the quiet meanderings about the veld even more pleasurable.
Once again a year of change came upon us and it was time to say cheerio firstly to Fiona and Patrick Dawe as their contract in Zimbabwe had come to an end and latterly Phil and Cheryl Haxen. We miss their vital personalities and thank them for the enormous contribution they made not only to us personally but to the society as a whole and I’m sure all members will join me in extending our best wishes to them.
Changes also affected the Botanic Garden and Herbarium with both Tom Muller and Bob Drummond retiring at the end of last year. Bob Drummond who has for many years looked at our finds (sometimes of Guava and odd Msasas) and patiently explained what’s what! On behalf of all the members I wish Bob all the best in his new (retirement?) occupation.
Every month Tom Muller meets us at the herbarium and leads a most interesting walk through the Botanical Gardens. Tom, our most grateful thanks for your time, knowledge and humorous anecdotes during the Botanic Garden walks and also for your interest in the samples we bring for identification.
George Hall resigned from the committee at the end of March and I would like to thank him for his contribution to the society.
Now onto the outings and as always every place has some special significance like John Cottrill’s enormous Sterculia and water garden at Mtepatepa, an encounter with Ochna gambleoides at Tony Tree’s farm in Darwendale and the beige hills of the Great Dyke in late winter. In October, Rob Burrett gave us an excellent talk about the Bushman paintings on Balkiza Farm. Other exciting spots included Ijapo and Ivordale Farms, scenic and bursting with unusual flora. A departure from the norm was a successful combined Christmas outing with the History Society at the delightful amphitheatre on Chedgelow Farm, where Phil lead a large group through the superb Miombo woodland. A big thank you to our hosts, who never seem to mind us wandering about their farms.
Bulawayo too has had some interesting outings especially Ian’s Historic Trees around the city, the Bulawayo Herb Garden where the curator explained some of the uses of indigenous plants, to the exciting corner of the Matobo – Shumba Shava Mkulu. Unfortunately, time prevented some of the Harare folk from joining the party at the most successful outing to Ivory Lodge. The Hillside Dams evening walks have been a success, so much in fact that Ian has admitted that they have almost sucked the place dry! The very successful Acacia school introduced last year has been of immense value to a lot of our members.
Tree Life appears every month and within its folds a wealth of information is to be found. Without our contributors the publication would surely whither away and here our grateful thanks to Benedicta, Mark, Lyn Mullin and more recently Thora with her fascinating Herbal Hints. Let us not forget the Tree Life ladies (Maureen, Vida and Peg) who, every month put Tree Life together, thank you for all your efforts. Without the assistance of our well trained and accomplished typists at Duplicating Services, Tree Life would not be what it is today, thank you Pam and Peggy.
It has been interesting to see once again that the society has started to adapt to the loss of its fundis. Yet despite the void, the groundwork built up by Meg, Phil, Kim and others continues and with it I hope increasing interest in Botany not only as a hobby but also a science if one wants to delve deeper into the “mystree” of plant structures. Once again Mark, thank you for showing us a broad spectrum of flora, on your most interesting Botanical Walks.
To all our members I hope you have found the outings to be enjoyable and of interest and my most grateful thanks to the committees of Bulawayo and Harare for your unstinting support.
BOTANIC GARDEN WALK: 5 APRIL 1994
Botanic Garden Walks resumed again after a 3 month break in which two were cancelled by rain and one was replaced by Bob’s farewell gathering. About 25 members were present to learn from Tom about the family Sapindaceae.
As Tom pointed out, 4 species of this family are commonly encountered around Harare, namely; Allophylus africanus, Pappea capensis, Dodonaea angustifolia and Zanha africana. The object of the walk was to look at the “other” species in the family in Zimbabwe – the ones we never, well, hardly ever, see
The family itself is characterized by being mainly trees or shrubs, (rarely climbers), the flowers are unisexual, the leaves are usually compound (Pappea and Dodonaea are of course exceptions) and the seeds often have aril-like structures.
In the Chirinda Forest section we first saw Blighia unijugata, a pinnate-leaved tree occurring at Chirinda and along the Rusitu River. The flowers occur in apparent racemes and Tom mentioned that the plant has large (2-3 cm) orange seeds, which hang conspicuously out of the racemes.
Incidentally, a quick check among the people present at this point revealed that no-one apart from Tom had seen this tree and I am sure that this was true of most of the following species.
On to Allophylus abyssinicus, another Eastern Districts tree, occurring (e.g.) in forests south of Chimanimani and in the Honde valley. This species has the 3-foliolate leaves of a Rhus and has a larger leaf than Allophylus africanus. Its growth is greatly assisted by disturbance.
The striking Filicium decipiens was examined next. This looks a bit like a fern (as the generic name implies). It has a 1-pinnate leaf and the leaf rhachis is strikingly winged. Numerous specimens of this species have established themselves in the Botanic Gardens.
Melanodiscus oblongus became Crossonephelis africanus and is now Glenniea africana! Yet another Eastern Districts tree, it has pinnate leaves. Tom pointed out that the leaf often has a tiny pair of leaflets occurring at the very base of the leaf rhachis. It grows in the small relict forest patches to be found from the Moodie’s Grave area down to the Rusitu.
Paullinia pinnata is a climbing member of the family. Again, it has pinnate leaves and a winged rhachis. Aporrhiza nitida looks a bit like Blighia but its (pinnate) leaves are more robust and have swollen petiolules that enable the leaflets to twist in order to make the most of the scanty light.
After these Eastern district species we were shown the typically moth-eaten Lecaniodiscus fraxinifolius which occurs along dry rivers in the lowveld e.g. by the Zambezi. This species was perhaps the first we had seen to be known to a number of members.
Our final tree was the pinnate-leaved Haplocoelum foliolosum with its very numerous leaflets, this one a familiar plant from our trips to the Chegutu and Kadoma areas where it appears to be fairly frequent.
Our thanks go as usual to Tom for sharing his knowledge of this fascinating family with us.
Sunnyside Farm Concession area
Lex and Lorna Southey were our hosts and a special thank you to Lorna for making available her beautiful garden.
To Lex Southey we are indebted for the historical background to the farm. The farm was developed in 1901 by Charles William Ritchie Southey (1872-1966) who was a descendant of the 1820 settlers of the Cape Eastern Province.
After the Rindepest outbreak of 1896-97 had decimated his dairy herd in Johannesburg, he decided to try his luck in Rhodesia because the Charter Company had advertised for settlers. The farm was one of the twenty-two surveyed farms in Moore’s Concession. The allocation was by drawing numbers from a hat and No. 1 had first choice, which was “Sunnyside”.
The first homestead was pole and dagga that saw the raising of a family of nine. Later, a brick homestead was built without cement and the white ants did considerable damage to the wooden window frames etc. Lex built the current home on the same site. Gilmour Southey accompanied G.W.R. Southey and farmed two and a half miles away on the farm where now stands Cherry Wood’s renowned rose nursery. Gilmour Southey had gone on a hunting trip and his wife, Nora, had come into early labour. She sent a runner to Lex’s grandmother. The runner arrived at dusk and would not accompany her.
The brave lady set off in the dark with only a jam jar candle and a box of matches and was followed all the way by some animal. The infant was safely delivered and the family had six children, all of whom survived. These early settlers were hardy and courageous. One wonders what the animal might have been. C.W.R. Southey writes in Heritage 5 (1986) that wild animals – lion, hyena, leopard and wild dog, surrounded them. The articles in this edition make excellent reading on the Mazowe area. C.W.R. Southey signed himself as “Son of the Soil’.
At least forty lion were bagged in the Concession area by shooting parties. One of the few farms in the area was owned by the Dunlops and now belongs to Tom and Bobs Bailey. Bobs is an artist and authority on wild orchids and is in the process of publishing a book of her illustrations.
The farm had an assortment of early implements and a 1910 Sheller was still in operation and obviously, still appropriate technology for the present. Transport in the main was by wagon and the first cars were T-Model Fords arriving in about 1914. For comfort these were no better than the wagons because of the disastrous state of the roads.
We were taken to the site of the new home being built for one of the Southey sons. The mode of transport was reminiscent of how thing’s were in those early days. The track was potted and rough, red mud in the wet weather and where this had run away, the small ravines exposed hard boulders.
The vehicle was an old trailer previously used in the then city of Salisbury to collect the night soil. It was tractor drawn and only made the journey to half way up the hill. Night soil was deposited in magnificent metal buckets marked SM and a few are to be seen at Ewanrigg. These containers make excellent plant pots if you might be so lucky as to acquire one.
It was at the top of the hill that the serious business of treeing started under the expert guidance of Meg Coates Palgrave. The trees in the area had been coppiced for the Jumbo and Alice Mines. The Jumbo and Alice Mines were both named after elephants. A mate had been found for Jumbo by the name of Alice. Jumbo was bought by Barnham Circus and taken to America. A popular song of the Music Halls ran: “Jumbo said to Alice ‘I love you’. Alice said to Jumbo ‘I don’t think you do, for if you only love me as you say you do, you wouldn’t go to America and leave me at the Zoo.”
The indigenous tree growth bore evidence of the cutting because it was mainly undergrowth from regenerating roots. Indigenous trees would not have grown in this abundant manner from seed. Further, the recent coppiced growth where trees had been cut to clear the site for the new building looked different from the parent stock. In the case of Zanha africana the young coppiced growth had serrated leaves that were much bigger. If coppiced trees were allowed to grow and cut down for firewood etc. leaving one root of five to grow into a large tree, it would give a twenty year cycle to supply firewood and keep the trees.
An example of where man is taught to blend with the environment and to ensure its preservation. How often haven’t we heard the sickening thud of an axe cutting down a tree, or evidence, of indiscriminate “hacking” on previous tree society visits?
The disturbance of the ecosystem was apparent by the take over by exotics which are fast becoming nuisances e.g. the thicket of Jacarandas Jacaranda mimosifolia was growing in the valley, Lantana in the flatter area by the cattle tracks and Syringa along the river bed.
Several valuable lessons were to be learned from Meg. The first was “ALL TREES HAVE LABELS TELLING YOU WHAT THEY ARE – USE YOUR EYES”. The notes have been compiled for their ‘give away s’ to a quick identification.
Zanha africana. Velvet fruited Zanha, Muchenya, Mahogomere.
Pinnate leaf ending in a pair. A profusion of velvety orange fruit not always eaten. Flaking bark with a pink underneath and the growing tip a characteristic ball and claw.
Fruit is not seen on all trees because Zanha is dioecious having separate male and female trees. The seed in the fruit contains 10.5% acid sapilin and is poisonous and probably accounts far the fact the fruit does not appear to be eaten by everything. The fruit is reputed to be sweet and eaten by monkeys.
The anecdote that if the fruit were soaked and the water used for washing clothes this would be better than any modern detergent is not correct. Saponins were the basis of soaps derived from plant material. The bark and roots were used widely medicinally as a remedy for dysentery and at least one fatality has been recorded, probably from an overdose of saponin, which occurs in the roots.
Ximenia caffra. Large sour plum, Mutengeni, Umthunduluka
Fruit bright scarlet when ripe and edible. Small trees or shrub usually growing asymmetrically, baboons gathering the fruit reportedly bend them over.
Leaves, covered with soft curly hairs. Bark dark grey on old trees. Flowers insignificant. Sweet centred and always green.
The name Ximenia is after Francesco Ximenez, a Spanish monk who wrote about Mexican plants in the seventeenth century. (Ximenia americana occurs in Zimbabwe).
The seeds yield a good viscous non drying oil used on the body in particular for chapped feet, the oil softens animal hides and is used to make bows and bow strings pliable.
Gardenia ternifolia. Label is: – Tough hairy leaves that are rough like sand paper if rubbed against the tongue (tongue test), bark rubs i.e. it is covered with a rusty powder, old pods are yellowish brown when mature and smooth. The seeds of many species of Gardenia produce a black dye when they are soaked. The dye from Gardenia resiniflua is used for tattooing.
Uapaca nitida (Narrow leaved Mahobohobo) Found in Brachystegia woodland in dry more northerly areas of the highveld. Edible fruits not as big as the Muzhanje (Uapaca kirkiana). Hard growing tip like wood, very long petiole conspicuous mid rib ridged on top and underneath, leaves smaller and narrower, wood makes a good charcoal, and Uapaca nitida is fire sensitive.
Ormocarpum kirkii (Small caterpillar Pod). A small tree occurring in dry woodland or grassland in the northern parts of Zimbabwe. Characteristic small, curled hairy pods remain almost hidden in the remains of the petals, resembling green furry caterpillars. The flowers are spectacular, large pink with deep mauve in the centre.
Meg’s definition of a tree – “If you can sit in its shade, it is a tree”.
The Ndebele grind the roots and mix it with cow dung and smear the floor to ward off witches.
The name kirkii is frequently encountered in the Botanical world especially in Central and East Africa. Many people may not know what an amazing man Dr. (Sir) John Kirk was, a surgeon, a humanitarian, botanist, explorer, mediator and administrator, (Consul for Zanzibar). He was a pallbearer at Livingstone’s funeral in 1874. He extensively collected plant material, gave descriptions and his work found its way to Kew. Three of the ten cases were lost when a canoe capsized in the Congo at the Cabora Bassa IR rapids. The cases containing the botanical collection and notes were for some reason held up at the Portsmouth docks in England for ten years. Incidentally, kirkii was described from material collected by Sir John Kirk in Somalia.
Stereospermum kunthianum (Pink Jacaranda). A specimen was encountered growing in the hillside and another was growing by the roadside on the way up to the new house. Many were fascinated by the long curling ‘pods’ that were split into three, the central piece bearing the winged seeds. When flowering, the tree gives a showy display of delicate pink tubular flowers resembling the Zimbabwe creeper. It is much sought after as a garden subject. Diagnostic features are the compound leaves (pinnate) with 4 pairs of opposite leaflets and one terminal leaflet. The stems are ridged on top and boat shaped underneath. The bark is very characteristic and is flaking in patches leaving a smooth underbark of greenish grey colour. The pods when chewed with salt are a cough remedy.
Protea angolensis: For the Protea enthusiasts, there are three easily identifiable species of Protea in Zimbabwe.
Protea angolensis variety angolensis flowers in January and is a small bush. Variety divaricata flowers in May – June and is a large tree.
Protea gaguedi flowers in September and is the Ethiopian Protea gaguedi is the Ethiopian vernacular for the species. Shona is mubandar. English – the African Sugar Bush
Protea welwitschii flowers in January and is the hairy honey scented Protea.
Herein lies the catch to identification – there are numerous varieties, Protea welwitschii boasting at least five. Be warned the name Protea comes from the Greek Sea God Proteus, who was able to change into many forms. The Faurea should probably be counted along with the Protea because they belong to the same family. Protea seeds are little nut-lets dispersed by mice.
Diospyros lycioides (Star Apple, Mushumadombo) Fruit was present, bright red with the remains of the calyx forming a star behind the ‘apple’. The name Diospyros means ‘divine wheat’ and was referred to by Pliny as the ‘seed of Jove’. The roots are hard, damaging ploughs, and are chewed after a meal. The frayed ends are used as toothbrushes.
Strychnos spinosa (Spiny Monkey Orange, Mutamba). The specimen encountered was a well-developed tree and spines were not evident. Spines are modified lateral branchlets and are found on the sucker shoots and thought to be a protection against grazing. Easy to identify once you know. Leaf has three veins from near the base of the leaf, with the petiole going up into the leaf blade before dividing – nothing else has this venation. Strychnos spinosa has a smooth bark.
Strychnos innocua the bark rubs, creamy brown, deeply corky, ridged longitudinally – so much cork it could be used for fishing floats.
Strychnos madagascariensis edge of the leaf looks scalloped, bluish green fruit when young.
The fruit is edible when yellow and ‘rotting’. Willie of Mother Patrick fame broke his front teeth trying to bite into a green Strychnos fruit. The seeds are poisonous. The Indian species Strychnos nuxomica contain strychnine.
Rauvolfia caffra. (Quinine-tree, Makashu) If it gws by roa river and looks like a mango, it is probably Rauvolfia; Evergreen, large tree, with leaves lanceolate and arranged in spirals. The latex is thin and rubbery and was used for the treatment of Malaria but is ineffective. However, it is a good medicinal tree, the latex being a remedy for infant diarrhoea, skin disorders and abdominal pains. The bark, especially that of the root contains reserpine, the derivates of which are used in tranquillisers and to lower the blood pressure. Wood is pale and used for cooking utensils, boats and fruit boxes.
Near the Rauvolfia, Lex Southey showed us the family graveyard where some of the Southeys had perished from blackwater fever. Dr. Livingstone wrote the penetration of Central Africa depended on having a cure for Malaria.
Meg gave easy identifications on fifty trees and this can be incorporated into future write-ups.
Nyarupinda Catchment April 1994
Nyarupinda Catchment did not feature in Tree Life No. 170 because of the message from South African in Tree Life No. 169, which concerned the Protea Atlas Project; if you have forgotten what it was, please refer to it again.
Field Cards since the year dot, when did they begin?
Browsing through them was like a trip down memory lane, mainly because of all our notes in the margins, every available space showed the gimmicks and slick phrases which have helped us to learn scores of scientific names. We associate certain people with certain trees and remember them both with affection, e.g. Trevor Gordon’s giraffe food Euphorbia matabelensis; Kim Damstra entranced by the trunk of Ochna pulchra his mermaid with opalescent underbark, sometimes scaly below. Lindsey Ford at Palm Tree farm Umboe, confirmed Grewia pachycalyx; poor Cissus with arthritic joints. Did Pat Walker point out that Erythroxylum emarginatum twigs were like lizard’s feet? As we crack its brittle leaf and do the tongue test Meg Coates Palgrave asks us if we notice anything, we try it again. Elsewhere Erythroxylum coca is a source of cocaine, we did not feel different but remembered what she had said. We associate history and trees with Dick Petheram and George Hall. Scientific names softly spoken by Bob Drummond may have been pearls cast before swine, we shall never forget Tricalysia niamniamensis … No space for more names and trees.
This digression preceded the search for the venues where the most species of Protea and Faurea were present; a list of good localities could be of use to an aspiring proteophile.
On April 10th a small group of us (Hatley and their guests, Bianchi, Mrs. Peggy Douglas, du Plessis’ and the Graves’) checked out Ann Hatley ‘s report concerning tall trees with brilliant red leaves, growing on top of the Great Dyke behind Kildonan Siding. From Eyre’s Pass we took the gravel road in a northerly direction, past the Great Dyke, Mine, and continued towards the Caesar Mine. Protea welwitschii in flower grew beside the road for many a kilometre. Had we noted the distance from the G D Mine to where we saw the red leaved trees, their position would have been marked on the Kildonan map (1730B3). En route to them we passed some numbered winze signs; a winze is a small inclined shaft from one level of a mine to another. What a good word for “Scrabble”. It was exciting to identify the mystery trees; they were Protea petiolaris subsp. elegans, Sickle-leaf Protea. Red new growth sprang from billowing rosettes of smooth slender green leaves which had pink petioles, a truly elegant display flanked by Faurea speciosa and Faurea saligna, a Violet Tree, Christmas Bush and the small-leaved Elephant Root (Elephantorrhiza elephantina). In one glance, what more could we have wished for? Yes! The flowers of Protea elegansIR, which are reputed to occur at any time of year, dead wood bearing blackened inflorescences was present. Both species of Protea occurred frequently along the road towards the Caesar Mine. Mention must be made of the metal peg labelled G.D.108 about 4 metres north of the Proteas we visited, its map reference and altitude may be recorded at the mine manager’s office. This knowledge would be useful and save much time when this site is Protea atlassed. Let’s do it, the terrain is unique, a good place for the Zimbabwe team to begin.
April 8th seemed to be the first day of winter, overcast sky and a cool breeze, not a chance of any April showers to redeem a very disappointing rainy season.
During the course of five months, Nov-March incl. less than 5 mm of rain was recorded on 18 days and over 5 mm fell on 27 days, the total for the season recorded at Tinto was 477 mm. The season 92-93 totaled 930 mm, which included 56 mm in April, as a result of this good soaking most of the indigenous trees and shrubs have flowered and fruited in such profusion. One of the exceptions could be Afzelia quanzensis renowned for its scent before sight which usually comes from a few scattered one-petalled flowers in October, its thick woody pods con¬taining red and black seeds are quite a rare sight in this catchment. We notice their absence when we collect all kinds of woody pods, to augment and eke out fuel for the grate in cold weather. It is many years since we have found seeds. Two trees have grown from a patch of seed sown directly into the ground near Katawa house (where we lived before coming here in 1988) they are at least 4 m in height, it would be a pleasure to see them flowering, that period is very brief.
A Goliath Heron visits the Nyarupinda dam from time to time; this is its first appearance. In November there was a bird’s nest stitched into a Litchi tree in the vegetable garden, spider web was not used in its construction. A Yellow-eyed Canary made its nest on an outside branch of an Avocado Pear tree. We watched the incubation period and marvelled at the speed that two youngsters, out of three, grew and flew. We immediately removed a dead one whose head hung forlornly over the edge of the nest. Pin-tailed and Paradise Whydah watch from tall trees for the opportunity to forage on the ground near the stables, this is their first appearance. Another novelty is a flock of Red-faced Mousebird devouring most of the foliage on Hibiscus fibrillata (?) otherwise Fairy Hibiscus.
Soon after mentioning the alate termites and what seemed to be kestrels, Veld Sketchbook Two by Jeff Huntly came to hand; on page 90 he recalls seeing birds swarming around a certain spot in the veld, a low termite mound. In a high-speed sketch he portrays the antics of the kestrels.
Flowers of a parasitic plant.
These occur on leguminous plants, Julbernardia globiflora in particular is hosting Pilostyles sp. a member of the family Rafflesiaceae. The vegetative parts of the parasite are like the mycelium of a fungus inside the host, these bear numerous scale-like flowers, which protrude through the bark, and the disfigured branches die. This affliction makes it easy to recognise Mnondo trees at this time of year.
Further reading on this topic will be found in National Geographic Vol. 168 No. 1 July 1985 page 136 where a close relative of Pilostyles is described and illustrated.
These have been abandoned since the rains begun. About three weeks ago the one nearest the house was used on two occasions, the scats were mainly fig seeds, at the moment it ‘goes’ somewhere else. The Diospyros lycioides seedlings, which geminated in the dung during the rains 92/93, are surviving in both civetries; in the one close to a vlei it was a surprised to see plantlets of Parinari curatellifolia. They have popped up this rainy season, they are a year behind the Diospyros, and the muhacha ‘stones’ were noticed early last year. The civet has a wide gut and these fruits are voided along with an amazing variety or animal, vegetable and mineral substances.
In recent weeks we have seen several centipedes and Night Adders; more adders outside the house than inside, more centipedes inside than outside.
Children’s Bush Camp
It will be fun planning a quiz for the children who will be attending a Bush camp on what was formerly Meg’s Acacia Place, now renamed Muzunga Dam. The junior section of the Zimbabwe Wildlife Magazine could be a guideline for the questions – this is Bush-beat. It is such a pity that Bush-beat has had to be discontinued. In its place there is a Junior Page. At last some of the collectibles from the countryside may be put to good use. Wish the children and me good luck, we do not need rabid jackals, an escort with side arms will be in attendance.
THORA’S HERBAL HINTS
WILD PEAR – Dombeya rotundifolia
This tree, a beautiful sight in early spring with its massed clusters of pink-white sweetly scented blossoms, is highly valued for its timber and medicinal uses.
It has excellent wood for making wagon wheels spokes, handles and yokes. When seasoned he wood is termite proof which makes it particularly valuable to ranchers for fencing posts and gates.
The bark contains tough flexible fibre, which is pounded, rolled and twisted into ropes and string, usually by the old women patiently working in the sun.
This bark is also used as a binding or splint to support broken limbs of both man and beast and it is believed to have healing powers in restoring injured bone and muscle. The bark is also used to make a tea to bring on labour if the birth of a baby is delayed, and to treat internal ulcers, stomach ailments and diarrhoea.
One cup of twigs and leaves boiled in four cups of water for two hours is said to relieve stomach cramps, haemorrhoids, vomiting and diarrhoea. This brew is also used externally for haemorrhoids and varicose veins.
The root boiled in water is an old remedy for colic, stomach aches and cramps.
The flowers, picked and dried by hanging them upside down in a cool airy place, make excellent dried flower arrangements that fully last a year.
WILD MEDLAR – Vangueria infausta
A small tree that is easily cultivated can be pruned into an attractive shape in the garden.
The tiny insignificant green flowers develop into brown, sweet, glossy fruits rich in vitamin C and can be successfully dried and kept for times of food scarcity. The seed kernels contain protein and are also eaten.
The root scraped and boiled in water is a beneficial treatment for menstrual problems in women. Tea made from the leaves and root is for treating coughs, colds and chest ailments.
The pounded root is a painkiller as well as having magical properties.
Mixed with other herbs it is said to prevent malaria fever.
The pounded leaves and twigs make a successful poultice to reduce swelling and relieve sprains and aches. The leaf well pulped and packed round a tooth relieves the ache.
A delicious jam can also be made from the fruit.
ANDY MACNAUGHTAN CHAIRMAN