The following is a summary of the news, events and happenings of the Tree Society of Rhodesia from the records we have available for the years 1967 and a  smattering of notes for the years before that


Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter May 1967 

 Dear Member,

 The Annual General Meeting will be held on May 13th at 7.45 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Queen Victoria Museum.  The main business will be the New Constitution and a copy of the Committee’s proposals will be reaching you at about the same time as you receive this.

 The Old Constitution of which you will also receive was very sketchy.  The Committee has attempted to include all the best features of all the Constitutions of similar Societies.  It is hoped that only minor alterations will be needed to most of it.

There are, however, two major changes.  The first is the Society year, because the Committee has decided it is far more convenient to use the Calendar Year.  This means that you will be paying a year’s subscription for nine months.  It is a fact at present that we are offering our Members more than their money’s worth, i.e. Science News, a Newsletter and, on request, a free copy of the South African Tree Journal.  There are the costs of running the Arboretum and also paper, stamps and phone calls.  The present subscriptions do not cover all these.  Next year bulk supplies of Science News may cost less, we might decide to make a part charge for the S.A. Journal, in which case, it would not be necessary to raise subscriptions in 1969.  It appears that the Society is about to expand and a bigger income would help solve this problem.  Finances were not considered when deciding to change the Society Year, but it does give time to find out how we are going, and how to balance income and expenditure.

Perhaps the only contentious alteration is the major one of reducing the number of Office Holders.  This is in line with all other Societies.  I think the original reason for having a President, two vice Presidents, a Chairman and a vice Chairman and a large Committee was to have a large number of persons on whom one could call to do jobs, form sub committees etc.  This has not worked.  A few do all the work.  You will see that it would be possible under the New Constitution to co-opt any person for a special purpose, which means, in an extreme case, that a subcommittee for a special task might consist of a Committee Member as its chairman with persons recruited outside the Society.

There are eight or more major tasks on which the Committee is working or proposes to work, about which you will hear in the Chairman’s report.  It appears that after many years the Society is now going places.  These are the reasons why we must have a comprehensive Constitution.

It could take days to discuss the New Constitution, so to reduce queries and their discussion to a minimum would all members please inform, in writing, by return of their disagreements, approval, queries etc. on it.  If we can have them in good time to discuss at the prior Committee meeting and then to process them a very great deal of time can be saved at the meeting.

FUTURE OUTINGS.  Outings are held on the 2nd Sunday of the month unless there is a strong reason for changing the date or day.

April                No meeting as many are connected with or will be attending the Ploughing Championships

May                 19th.  This is the 3rd Sunday.  Visit to Umboe Valley to se Riverine Forest.  Meet at Reps car park at 0800 hours.

June                 9th.  Hunyani river where it passes through the Great Dyke near Darwendale.

July                  Annual outing to Ewanrigg Park

August            Palm Block to see Raphia Palms and Eastern Border and Zambezi trees “out of place”

Yours sincerely,

Douglas Aylen  President



 Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter December 1967

 Dear Member,

Our efforts to increase numbers at Outings have brought no results.  Unless we do not have the correct address, all members must have received advice.  There has been one good result of publicity, we are getting a steady flow of new members.

The Committee decided not to hold another Outing until the 28th January when we will be the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Boulton of the Atlantica Research Station.  On previous occasions we saw the ringing of birds, discussed the habits of small mammals, played a tree hunting game, and were taken round the laboratories and a great deal more.  Wet or fine there is bound to be a great deal of interest for each and all.  There will be a film show in February instead of an outing as this can be a wet month.

A work party at the Arboretum and a study exercise at Greenwood Park are being held over for the same reasons.

Makabusi River Lands

 The Herald picked up items in last month’s News and Newsletter and made very much to the point comment.  Because the account was concise most people appear to have read it with interest, that is judging by letters, phone calls and chance encounters in the street.

Waterfalls TMB is already doing much to develop river verges in its area and has requested advice from us.  I had hoped to visit before writing this but was prevented by illness.

There has been some more support for the idea of a Bird Sanctuary along the stretch between Hillside and the Imperial Tobacco Company (ITC) and apparently “Walter Robin” of the Sunday Mail assumes that interest is growing sufficiently for it to become a possibility.

A Tree for a Child

 The Chairman of the Natural Resources Board has written to me as follows:  “Recently the National Council of Women passed a resolution at their Conference to the effect that encouragement should be given for the planting of trees on the lines adopted in Israel.   Apparently in Israel it is accepted that a family will plant a tree whenever a child is born.  I have given this matter consideration and we had a short discussion with Mrs. Hickman, the Secretary of the Council, to further the idea, as expressed at the Conference.  I consider that the Tree Society is probably the correct body to further this idea and for this reason I would like to discuss this matter with you whenever you have an opportunity to call at my office during the next week or so.”

I think that first we want ideas and then an estimate of how much support there would be for this excellent idea.

Problems will be a planting site or sites and after care, watering and prevention of damage.  In new gardens and newly developed areas it should be possible to overcome these.  If street planting is contemplated the local authority must e consulted, this also should obviate future interference by pipes, lines and drains as there are standard plans for siting trees.  One might be required to plant the whole frontage at one go, on average four trees.  Unless there were ‘quads’ one child would have the advantage of several trees.

Unless the idea really catches on, it is doubtful if a plot of land could be devoted specifically to this purpose.  However, some authority such as the Municipality, Botanic Garden or National Parks might be able to accept accumulated donations to extend a tree planting programme.  Subscribing parents could be advised when their tree would be planted, which would have to be during the short tree planting season.

Natural Paints and Dyes

 For its next year’s painting competition for children, the Natural Resources Board is encouraging the use of natural paints.  Many shades of dyes can be made from trees and herbs but the range of known items for pigments is very small.  Any ideas?

Bundu Books

 Book 11 should be on sale by the time you receive this.  I believe I was the severest critic in writing of the first Bundu Book and found myself on the committee for the second, and now also given the task of preparing an “errata sheet” for inclusion/distribution in it.  Could you please send in the verbal comments I heard.

Perhaps the most important item in Book 11 is the modern treatment of snake bite.  Much of this has not appeared in print before but has met with approval from the leading authorities in Southern Africa.  In fact it has been said that it will be the standard reference work for first aid treatment for several years.

Poisonous snakes and the commoner non poisonous ones are described.  The Book also includes the first account for laymen of Rhodesian insects and one on birds for the beginner.  It is fully illustrated in colour and written for, but not down to, Youth.

Incidentally, the dosage of Adrenaline recommended for the treatment of serum allergy, Anaphylaxia, should be available from your chemist, while that recommended in another recent book is available o the medical profession.

Outing to Munzi

 The Tree Society held its November outing at the small holding of Mr. and Mrs. Izzett, Munzi, 9 miles from Salisbury off the Beatrice Road.

The holding is 12 acres in extent and is typical of our Highveld sand areas with granite kopjes.  On arrival we did a ramble over a kopje and through the surrounding bush, which was most interesting as a lot of the shrubs were still in flower and in bud.  The delicate flowered Clerodendrum myriciodes was seen in flower which nearly resembles the cultivated Clerodendrum ugandense, Oxford and Cambridge Clerodendrum.  On the top of the kopje we saw Rothmania fischeri which is comparatively rare but unfortunately was not in flower.

After a very welcome cup of tea and sandwiches and a short rest, we had another ramble towards the Hunyani River.  It was obvious that here was a rich pocket of soil, for most of the trees were exceptionally large.  Really beautiful specimens of the following trees were seen here.  Ochna pulchra, Clerodendrum glabrum,  Combretum molle and Brachystegia spiciformis. 

Although the outing was marred by the lack of attendance, only seven people, and four of these were committee members, a most enjoyable and interesting afternoon.  Our sincere thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Izzett for their hospitality.

Yours sincerely,

Douglas Aylen,  President


There is now a gap in available records until February 1962



 Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter February 1962

 Dear Member,

Over forty members turned out on the afternoon of January 20th to plant trees, some of which they themselves brought, for which the Society is very grateful.  Welcome items were the Raphia palm, Raphia ruffia, pink Jacaranda, Stereospermum kunthianum, tree wisteria, Bolusanthus speciosus, and other handsome indigenous trees, some of which already are present but of which more are required to implement the new policy of clump plantings.

With new discoveries of existing trees as the site is slowly opened up and past and recent plantings, the list of indigenous trees has grown to almost a hundred.  The number of exotics is about fifty, and in due course the less interesting of these will  be replaced by ‘introductions’.  As far as possible new plantings of exotics will be restricted to genera already represented by indigenous species and rare or unusual plants.  As an example of the former, the cassias, and of the latter, the Ginkgo.

A commencement has been made in affixing permanent labels to the trees.  After considerable thought it was decided to use labels made of sheet aluminum about 8”x 4” with beaded edges.  An eight gauge galvanized steel wire runs in the beading along the top and sides, forming two legs about 15” long.  The lower 4” of these legs are bent at right angles inwards.  The label is affixed by burying the greater part of the legs in a hole beside the tree.  Stones being wedged in before the hole is filled in order to render difficult subsequent removal of the label.

The Latin name and common name, if there is one, and a number are stamped on the plate.  These numbers will correspond to a descriptive list of trees which we hope soon to prepare.  This list will be displayed at one or more convenient laces in a Perspex fronted case.  For a start labels will be placed at up to three of the most prominent trees of each species.

Water pipes and taps have been extended over the greater part of the area in which scrub has been thinned, which is as well as not only did some of last year’s plantings tend to droop at the end of our mid wet season drought but it also affected some of the original indigenous trees, causing the leaves to wilt.

At that time the large black ants which plague the arboretum were exceedingly vicious.  The heavy rain which fell before and after the planting outing reduced the attack by ants.  It is to be presumed that they bite in order to obtain moisture.

The extension of the scrub clearance and thinning has reached half way up the slope to a very large Ficus rhodesiaca from whose cool shade there s an uninterrupted view of the whole lake.  Abundant flat rocks on the site will be formed into seats in order to provide a welcome rest on a hot day for those who intend to brave the roughness of the last part of the scramble to the summit.

It is on the upper part of the hill where soil is scanty between the large rocks that there are to be found some of the trees such as Kirkia acuminata, more commonly associated with the middle veld and dry granite kopjes.

The Society’s problem is whether, first, to develop upwards so a to make accessible further species; or towards the dam wall so as to link up with the potential aloe garden above it, or in the opposite direction where there are some twenty acres of scrub Uapaca kirkiana which, if removed, would give scope for a large scale planting; or finally, to concentrate on the verges of the half mile approach road.  All are essential projects but the Society can no more than attempt one at a time.  Each a task which, with our limited resources, will take several years to complete.



 Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter July 1961

 On 5th June the Society held another most interesting film show.  The Union Castle Company booked for us the Grand Hotel hall and projected their film “Islands in the Sun”, which is a short tour of the Canary Islands and Madeira.  It included numerous shots of flowering trees and shrubs, some familiar and some not yet well known in Rhodesia.  We are very grateful to the Union Castle Company.

The instructive film of the evening was the “The Culbin Story”, kindly lent to us by the United Kingdom Information Service.  This film tells the story of the reclamation of an area of long troublesome sand dunes and its afforestation. It is a very good documentary and would be of particular interest to anyone engaging in controlling wind erosion on mine dumps.

Our double feature was two films obtained for us by the local Ecological Research Station of the Atlantica Foundation.  The two films were complementary in that they described two very different types of National Parks.

The first, “National Parks: Nature’s Last Frontier” which is sponsored y the Intern facilities that are provided to the annual millions of visitors.

The second “Wilderness Alps of Stehekin” sponsored by the Wilderness Society, describes a wild mountainous area which is preserved as a sanctuary and where mechanical transport is prohibited and amenities are limited to what might be termed safety measures.  The scenery is beyond description.

The four films each showed a different aspect of human activity but all contained great interest for tree lovers.

Some of us were privileged to meet two visitors from our sister society in South Africa, Messrs. Mogg and Nicholson, when they recently made an all too brief tour, visiting our arboretum on 15th May, and were greatly interested in our efforts.  It is at Mr. Mogg’s request that the following short illustrated account was prepared by our vice president, Mr. Aylen.  It also fortuitously served as part of a reply to a subsequent enquiry by rotary as to our objects and endeavours and how they could help us.  Our requests were simple, to assist us a) in spreading a love of trees and b) in establishing an international seed exchange.

We are happy to have made, at such a close interval, personal contacts with representatives of these two bodies.  May we have the pleasure of meeting other members of both and, if they can spare the time, arranging tours for them.

The Natural Resources Board has each year a special conservation theme and we are pleased to be able to say that next year’s theme will be “Trees and flowering shrubs”.  The Board arranges the distribution of posters, illustrated material, painting books, slides, films etc. to all schools, and it runs competitions for adults and children.  This next year there will be, in addition, a “tree” calendar and it is hoped to publish our book for beginners on how to set about learning trees.

In all, we can look forward confidently to a successful year.  We are ending with an appeal for habit photographs of indigenous trees.  On going through books and other sources it has been found that in most the trees do not stand out individually, or, if growing in the open, are deformed.  There is also a tendency to select abnormally large specimens.  We seek clear photos in which the tree can be recognized by its habit, i.e. is an average specimen in every way.

Ed. The name of the current President or the writer of this article is not given, sadly.


Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter October 1961

 Dear Member,

On Sunday afternoon, 24th September, approximately fifty members of the Society and their friends were entertained at the home of the Director of the Forestry Commission, Mr. G. M. Mcregor and Mrs. McGregor.

Kivurini, as their home is aptly named, means “In amongst the little Shadows”, it is a few miles south east of Salisbury in the granite kopje country.   Of twenty acres forming Kivurini approximately ten acres have been left in a natural state with many varieties of indigenous trees amongst which are Combretum microphyllumm, a climber with scarlet flowers; Mystroxylon aethiopicum, Pappea capensis, Lobengula’s indaba tree; Randia vestita, usually a shrub but here a tree; Boscia salicifolia; Euclea multiflora, an evergreen, Ehretia cylindrocarpa, Dialiopsis africana, Stereospermum kunthianum, Celtis kraussiana, Hymenodictyon floribundum; Schrebera mazoensis, Cussonia spicata, Khaya nyasica, the Big Tree at Mt. Silinda.

On arrival visitors had an opportunity of seeing a fernery extant with good overhead cover of clusters of bamboo and oyster nut climber with a central Pinus patula.  The satisfactory humidity for a fernery was obtained by fifteen overhead atomizing foggers.

Another interesting feature was a Trichilia emetica, the Natal mahogany, which is indigenous to Rhodesia where it is found as a riverine tree in frost free areas and is thus almost confined to the low veld.  It is an excellent evergreen shade tree.  It is planted commonly in gardens and parks but is reputed to be slow growing.  This is so, especially when planted away from river banks or other moist sites.

Seed from a particularly fine specimen at Kariba was collected and sown on October 10th, 1958.  It germinated within a fortnight and one seedling was transplanted from the bed to a container on March 17th 1959.  It was moved to Salisbury and planted at Kivurini on September 12th 1960 at the side of a grotto, a site which is perpetually moist.  It stood 3’9” at planting.  By mid March 1961 it had attained 5’7”.  At this stage all axillary buds, some of which showed indications of developing into sizeable side branches, were removed.

There is a tendency for late summer or early autumn growth to develop, the equivalent of Lammas growth in the Northern hemisphere.  Full advantage was taken of this by keeping all axillary buds in check and thus producing proliferation of the main stem.  Conditions could not have been more favourable for rain persisted into May and the season was abnormally warm.  By mid May 1961, when apical growth had ceased, the tree was 7’9”high.  It had been in its final site for exactly eight months and had grown four feet, or six inches per month.  In the last six weeks there has been a vigorous development of side branches.  Only those above 7’6” have been left.  The intention is that these branches, in turn, will have their axillary branches removed and thus prolong their growth.  If late summer and autumn weather are favourable as was the case in 1961, there should be a tree twelve feet high and with a good spread at one year and eight months from planting and this from a slow growing tree!

After tea visitors were taken on a conducted tour by Mr. McGregor to see the indigenous trees mentioned earlier.  The exception and, in some cases, almost giant growth must be attributed partly to the reduction and virtual elimination of veld fires and also to the moisture that reaches all trees due to the high run off from the areas of rock outcrop.

Visitors were also shown an interesting experiment.  On the 12th September, 1960 ten mukwa truncheons 4.5” thick by 7’6” long were planted 18” deep.  It is now thought that this date was probably too early; the end of October or early November being considered more suitable.  Nevertheless over sixty percent have survived and if they survive one more summer should be well established as young trees.

Members of the Society all agreed that there was much to learn at Kivurini and all had a very happy and instructive afternoon.

Ed. The name of the current President or the writer of this article is not given, sadly.




Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter February 1960

 EXPEDITION TO HORROR,  Contributed by D. Aylen, Tree Society of Rhodesia.

On a recent Sunday afternoon the Tree Society made a visit to examine the damage that cn be done to trees by severe grass fires.  The road from Salisbury to Lake McIlwaine, about twelve miles out, passes kopjes of unusually large granite boulders.  Some years ago Mr. J. Corser acquired three hundred acres here with the intention of transforming it into a private park.  The area was then already famed for its profusion of large trees below and amongst the immense blocks of granite which were painted in a wide range of soft colours by lichen.  On sheltered surfaces there were numerous Bushman Paintings and, in fact, a large cave has been declared a National Monument for this reason; there is an illustration of the more unusual portion of these paintings in the recently published Prehistoric Rock Paintings of Central Africa.

Mr. Corser commenced to develop this unique and lovely property by making roads and paths and building shelters which blend with the scenery.  Along the roads and on the flatter land surrounding the hills which were treeless due to past cultivation he planted a large number of flowering trees.

Within a few years the first stage of a tragedy occurred.  On a hot and windy October day, then the grass is at its driest a fire crossed the border and swept through the park.  The damage did not, at first, appear severe but much of the underbrush was killed and species of trees susceptible to fire received damage to their bark which eventually resulted in death.

Owing to the removal of some of the trees the height and density of the grass increased and trailing and climbing herbs, which are inflammable after frost, replaced the bush amongst the boulders.  When the next fire swept through a few years later there were, besides several years of accumulation of dead grass and leaves, dead trees and fallen dead wood.  Not only was the fire hotter but the protective effect of evergreen under bush was lacking even on the hills, and trees which normally received a degree of protection from boulders were damaged.  On the lesser slopes fire ate into the heart wood where virus disease had found an entry after the loss of portions of the bark, resulting from the previous fire.  Some of these trees were later blown down and others commenced to die, dropping branches which would provide more fuel.  Much of the dead wood was removed by hand but some remained. Naturally the extent and quantity of grass and inflammable herbs increased greatly.

This October the third fire occurred.  It escaped from land upwind just before noon on a hot windy day and in spite of firebreaks swept into the park, to roar like a gigantic blow torch through the valleys and up the slopes.  Some measure of the intensity of the heat is provided by the scaling off of rock faces on which, until then, Bushman Paintings has lasted for, perhaps hundreds of years.  Further evidence of the intensity of the fire was everywhere to be seen.  Fire got into the trunk of a gigantic Cape Fig and left its branches sprawling on the ground like the tentacles of an octopus.  In the open, trees with previously damaged boles were felled or left ready for the first strong wind to blow them down; sap boiled beneath the corky bark of healthy and normally fire resistant trees.  On the lower slopes even apparently healthy candelabra Euphorbia were felled by the fire.  On the upper slopes huge evergreen figs, of species with the fruit in the leaf axil, were so damaged that they must die soon.  Fire susceptible trees, like mountain acacia, Brachystegia tamarindoides, which seek refuge in places where normally fire cannot occur, e.g. amongst bare boulders, were reached by the flames which scorched the bark, many of these, too, must soon die.  In seepage areas beneath the hills where, in other circumstances, the grass would be short and green, thorn trees with boles eighteen inches in diameter and straight and branchless for twenty five feet were ring barked by fire.  On the periphery those previously damaged by fire were felled.

To add to the devastation the remains of the once deep leaf mould which was not consumed by the fire was eroded away by the first heavy storm which occurred  a few days before the Tree Society’s visit.  In fact there was visible recent erosion on even the most gentle of slopes.

The impact of horror and indignation made on the party by this scene of desolation was considerable; in fact some members wondered why they had been brought to such a depressing place.  Emotions were even more strongly aroused when, after a short explanatory talk, the party made an inspection of the area during which the extent of the damage was carefully examined and it became obvious that trees apparently, at first glance, undamaged were doomed.

Comparison with photographs taken before the fires revealed that less than one third of the original trees were left.  The final survival rate was estimated at about ten per cent of the original number.  Some interesting species may disappear or only poor specimens be left.

After a cup of tea the party clambered amongst the boulders to see the Bushman Paintings.  This was no light relief as it became obvious that many had been ruined by flaking or by smoke, though , fortunately, the fire had not reached the more famous of them which, being in a cave, were protected.

In a concluding talk, the advantage of early burning as a means of reducing fire damage to a minimum were explained.

The worst fires occur in areas which are not grazed and which are not burnt for several years.  It takes manyyears for tall dense grass to rot under Rhodesian conditions.  Fires driven by wind up a slope are always fierce and in fact impossible to extinguish, but when a fire is driven up a valley it creates such a draught that it roars through at a  high speed with such heat that even green branches on tall trees are ignited.  The only practical measure of control in such circumstances is to burn the grass progressively patch by patch so early in the season that it ignites with difficulty only where driest.  As other patches become dry enough these are burnt.  Such a procedure takes from a week to a month, according to the types of grass and local variability of soil moisture.  In places subject to frost, it must be done before the grass is killed back.  If it becomes necessary to burn a patch of more than a small size, it is burnt downhill and or against the wind, or else at night.  The heat created is insufficient to harm even young trees and in fact not all the grass is consumed.  However, if accidental fire does occur later it burns but slowly and with little heat.

Unmanned fire breaks are readily jumped by wind driven fires.  Outbreaks within fire breaks are not uncommon, caused by incompletely smothered cooking fires, broken bottles, smoking out bees, and lightning and, amongst other causes, the soot from the exhaust of a diesel engine.

Can cigarette ends cause fires?  The writer once demonstrated, in a safe place, three times in quick succession that they can.  If, on a hot day, one falls on broken down or matter grass, such as is not uncommon along the verges of roads and paths, it can readily start a fire.  The smoldering tobacco causes adjacent grass to smoulder.  This creates a pocket of gas.  A slight breath of wind, even the draught of a passing car, causes the spark to heat up enough to ignite the gas.  There can be a just audible explosion, and in many cases there is a burst of flames.  Fires caused by either cigarette ends or broken bottles are most likely to occur when conditions are favourable for fierce fires.

The conclusion is that, where a bad fire hazard might be created, it is best to practice early burning, particularly if it is desired to protect trees.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter April 1960

 On 10th March another film and slide show was given b the Society in the Blue Room of the George Hotel with the kind permission of the Manager.  Though attendance was not as good as on the first occasion of this nature, the success of the evening was never in doubt.

Mr. Guy not only loaned us his magnificent colour slides of indigenous flowering trees bt very kindly give explanatory talks about each specimen.  These slides are certainly the big draw of the evening.

The Committee was honoured to welcome the Governor of Southern Rhodesia, His Excellency Sir Humphrey and Lady Gibbs and party.  Altogether an enjoyable evening.

A collection was taken in aid of the development of the arboretum at Lake McIlwaine.

Outing:  On 20th March an outing to Glenara Farm was arranged with the kind permission of Mr. Colmeyer.  A walk in glorious weather among the very fine trees, and Mr. McGregor’s short talks on outstanding specimens, were greatly appreciated by all.

An article by Mr. McGregor of the Forestry Commission and a member of the Society follows.

Ed. The name of the current President or the writer of this article is not given, sadly.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter April 1959


A one time scene of desolation is to become a place of beauty of particular interest to tree lovers.  It is Sentinel Hill and rises steeply on the west side of the dam wall of Lake McIlwaine.  Thanks to the work of some members of the Tree Society and the good offices of the National Parks Board, a large area of scrub woodland is being slowly converted into an arboretum.  The volunteer workers who go there weekends are not daunted by the knowledge that the task will take fifty years or more to complete.  In little over a year a mark has been made that is visible from even the centre of the lake.  Scrub has been cleared, leaving promising saplings of the more interesting or unusual species and some two hundred and fifty colourful and exotic trees have been planted.

The work commenced on that portion of the hill most favourably sited to be seen by visitors to the lake.  This bit of window dressing, if it can be deemed such, is designed to fit in with the plan, already underway, for the layout of grounds as garden and park in the immediate vicinity of the dam wall.  Exotics have been included in this part of the arboretum for the purpose of providing colour all the year round.  Gradually as more ground is cleared it is hoped to establish specimens of each of the several hundred kinds of indigenous trees which it is thought would find the conditions here suitable.  Discovery on the hill of a specimen each of Lonchocarpus capassa, sometimes called the ‘rain’ tree, and Cassia abbreviate, trees normally found at altitudes of 1500 feet lower, and the moderating local effect of the lake on climate, leads one to believe that the species of trees which would grow here is larger than might be thought.

The lake is named after the late Sir Robert McIlwaine to whose lifetime of personal effort, culminating in first, the chairmanship of the Natural Resources Commission, and then chairman of the subsequently appointed Board, we largely owe Southern Rhodesia’s world leadership in the conservation of natural resources.  It was while serving on the Commission in 1938 that he was appalled by the appearance of the hill to the west of the Hunyani Poort which had been stripped of trees for firewood.  In striking contrast the hill to the east, covered mainly with large mountain acacia, Brachystegia tamarindoides, perhaps to large to tempt the dealer in firewood, was left untouched.  Sir Robert included a photograph showing the contrast, in the Commission’s report.  The arboretum site also had a few of these acacias, perhaps the most beautifully shaped of all our trees, and from their roots sprung a coppice growth now being thinned and pruned into promising saplings.


Another long term project of interest to tree lovers is being undertaken at the Boy Scout Park at Ruwa.  Over twenty years ago the Scout Association acquired some two hundred acres of land as a  camping site within easy cycling distance of Salisbury.  Repeated hacking, lopping and fire had reduced woodland to short scrub and isolated large trees, many of which were damaged.  The scrub grew slowly in height but increased in density.  In areas denuded and eroded by past cultivation Faurea spp., Protea spp. and a woody Helychrysum came in as pioneers.  The greatest degree of recovery took place on termite mounds and on these today are good specimens of a wide variety of trees.  Riverine trees are also well represented along the Ruwa river which flows through the Park.    In all some eight species of indigenous trees and tall shrubs have been identified.

Recently in order to provide space for more than ne thousand Scouts who will be camping at Ruwa Park during the jamboree week commencing 4th May, and also as a long term sylvicultural operation, the scrub has been thinned and the underbrush cut out from the termite mounds.  Saplings have been pruned and some surgery undertaken on damaged trees.  Visitors will be welcome to the Jamboree and to attend the various arena events, camp fir concerts, see press announcements.  Parties of tree lovers who would like to include in their visit a conducted tour should advise the secretary of the Tree Society if possible a week before the Jamboree commences.  The progressive improvements of woodland by sylviculture should be of particular interest to those lucky enough to own plots containing indigenous trees, but it can be certain that the project will be watched by all tree lovers during the years to come.  It is hoped to arrange a meeting of the society at the Scout Park in the near future.


Those of us who have travelled recently by main road to Marandellas and other centers will have been struck by the good growth of trees and flowering shrubs planted along the verges during the past two seasons. This work is of course, being undertaken along many sections of our main roads throughout the territory by the Government Roads Department, whose Commissioner, Mr. J. H. Durr, is a tree lover and member of the Tree Society.  The Roads Department welcome assistance from the public for the provision of suitable trees and the care of those plated.  However, should an individual desire to plant trees on a road verge he must first consult the Road authority.  Obviously any trees planting carried out in a road reserve must follow organized planning and avoid any misplacement which would interfere with sight distance or drainage and other road improvements, and telephone or power lines, whilst these remain within the road servitude.  The same holds good for householders in local authority areas.  Your efforts will always be appreciated and are even sought, but they naturally must conform to the road authorities’ planning.


Many people have hesitated to join the Tree Society, possibly for two reasons; firstly, because they were not aware of any interesting outing or activities; secondly, they did not know how they could do anything actively to help.  With the development of the Arboretum at Lake McIlwaine any number can help.  If you think that any of your friends would be interested in the Tree Society please pass on this news letter.  The Society welcomes new members who will take an active interest in the Society.

The Society’s Committee has during the past year met regularly every month.  At these meetings ways of improving the Society’s usefulness are frequently discussed.  If you have any suggestions to make that will benefit the trees of Southern Rhodesia or promote greater tree consciousness, please write to us or bring forward your suggestions at our Annual General Meeting on May 2nd.

This is the first of what we hope will be a quarterly newsletter; any suitable articles for inclusion will be appreciated.

Ed. The name of the current President or the writer of this article is not given, sadly.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter September 1959


At present water, so necessary to ensure good growth of young trees during the first one or two years of their establishment, must be hauled by hand from the lake.  The labour and inconvenience of carrying water by the bucketful increase as the project extends up the hill.  It is very desirable to open up and beautify the crest with plantings as it is a favourite view point for those willing to scramble rive hundred feet upwards.  The woodcutter, who devastated the slopes of the hill in the past, spared man of the trees on the crest, but they are, however, largely obscured and suppressed by scrub.

It is the Society’s intention to thin out the scrub up to the crest, preserving promising saplings and any specimens not common on Sentinel Hill, and, during this coming wet season, to interplant with colourful trees and shrubs wherever space can be made available.  This work, and improvements to the path cut last year, will undoubtedly attract more visitors and may arouse their interest in trees; which, after all, is one of the objects of this Society.  The view from the summit and the surroundings may be the initial attraction, but, as the arboretum develops, the beauty of the trees may well surpass the other attractions.

It is also certain that, observed from the lake, the hill will attract more attention.  We may do no more than give a little pleasure to an unknown visitor, but it is almost certain he will spread the word around of a place well worth the expenditure of energy on a fifteen minute uphill walk.  It is in such ways that the Society will grow in strength and numbers.

As is usually the case with any worthwhile project, there is a big snag to the development of the crest and upper reaches.  While water can be carried manually for a short distance there are obviously limitations to this and if water is to be of benefit to the arboretum in general it must be pumped.  The Committee has gone into ways and means of doing this and obtained an estimate of the cost, £300.  This is, of course, far beyond the means of the Society, but it believes the scheme of pumping water to tanks at the top and part way up the slope is essential for the development of the crest and the upper slope.  It is therefore, going into ways and means of raising the sum.  Will any reader contribute towards this work?


The outing took place on Saturday, 1st August.  Unfortunately, due to other attractions and cold overcast weather at midday, the attendance was disappointing.  However, as the tour commenced, there was a complete change in the weather and the small number had the advantage that it formed just the right sized group for Messrs. Aylen and Drummond to conduct the tour and to describe some features, interesting point or use of approximately fifty of the nearly one hundred different indigenous trees and shrubs growing wild in the Park.  These fifty specimens were seen during a walk of less than half a mile, which included a section of the river, some tree veld on poor soil inclined to water log and several termite mounds.  In fact, less than ten acres were examined, an area carefully selected to provide the maximum variety of trees to be seen during the time available.  Many of the visitors checked off the names on lists which had been provided.

Tough the trees had that ‘end of season’ look, having lost leaves or having browned and battered leaves, the visitors were struck by the beauty of the place, in particular, the tree shaded river tumbling through and over granite rocks and boulders from  one pool to another.  The open air chapel, set among boulders and trees, also attracted attention; and an offer was made to supply seedling flowering aloes to complete the planting of the natural rock garden which surrounds the chapel.

After an excellent tea organized by Mrs. Reid, Mr. Aylen gave a one minute talk on a method he has used to teach Scouts to recognize trees.  After explaining he was neither an artist nor a botanist, he produced a blackboard on which he had drawn the main features for which to look.  There were stylized sketches of different shapes of trees, of kinds of leaves and leaf arrangements, shapes of leaves and leaflets and leaf margins, bole shape and bark texture, thorns and other items such as colour, glossy or dull.  He suggested that, for a beginner, it was best to observe and learn as much as possible about one tree at a time, rather than to attempt to learn several names at once.  Mr. Drummond then answered questions on a more scientific plane.

The Society’s thanks are due to the Mashonaland Boy Scout Association for permitting the visit, and to Mr. Drummond for assistance at the outing and also for the preparation of the list of trees and shrubs.


It has been suggested that this Committee produce a leaflet somewhat on the lines of Mr. Aylen’s blackboard sketches but going more fully into the different items to look for when attempting the identification of a tree.  ‘How to avoid confusing one tree with one of another kind’.  To the un-tutored eye, two or even more, quite different trees look alike.  Even fairly knowledgeable people can make mistakes by taking too casual a glance.

In cases of uncertainty the amateur checks in a book, but before reaching a stage where he can use a book he must acquire the knowledge and powers of observation which such a leaflet would assist to provide.  It is this first step which appalls the beginner and it is considered that the whole lesson could be presented pictorially.  However, before proposing the publication of such a leaflet we must find an artist who would undertake the simple stylized drawings.

The nomenclature of trees is a difficulty which frightens off many would be beginners.  The African names are no less tongue twisters than are the long universal scientific names to those unfamiliar with these languages.  For trees have “common” names in English, and some are very inappropriate, so we can virtually disregard them and must make a choice of Latin or the vernacular.  Often a tree’s African name varies from one language group or sub group to another.  Perhaps one day it will be possible to make a fuller study of African names, but meanwhile it must be recorded that the Urban African is losing his bush lore and the rural one fast forgetting it.

The Latin names of central African trees are, at present, being corrected.  The rule is that the name must be universal and it has been found that a few of our trees have been wrongly identified in the past, though the name stuck locally; but an even greater number ha been named elsewhere previously and it is naturally the prior name which must be used.  This work is proceeding and the past trouble of being confronted with changes in names should soon be settled once and for all.

The unsophisticated African is still a reliable source of information and no mean botanist.  An example may illustrate this.  The other day while travelling in some rather wild country in and around the Magonde Native Reserve, the writer noticed a Brachystegia which at first appeared to be a hybrid between the Mountain Acacia, Brachystegia tamarindoides, and another Brachystegia somewhat like the muFuti, but a distinct species, Brachystegia allenii.  It was then noticed that whenever a certain soil type occurred there were almost pure stands on it and there were none of the usual variations one would expect as a result of hybridization.  The Africans living there were surprised at our interest in this tree and, on being questioned, all gave it the same “muTuruwunzi”, hardly sounding the ‘w’.  This name is obviously a combination of the names for Branchystegia allenii and Brachystegia tamarindoides, muTuru and muWunzi.  They have moved into the area comparatively recently but recognized just what we did, and coined a descriptive name.  Until this isolated patch of the tree, Brachystegia utilis, was discovered by the writer, it was recorded only from parts of the middle veld along the Eastern Border, where it is known locally as muNobva amongst other names.  Incidentally soil, climate and rainfall are similar.

P.S.  Any suitable articles for inclusion in our next news letter will be appreciated.

Ed. The name of the current President or the writer of this article is not given, sadly.


Now nothing until 1954



 Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter September 1954

 The Society will hold an outing at Acacia Point, Lake McIlwaine, South Shore, on Sunday 19th September, 1954 at 1030 hours, by kind permission of the Garrison Club.

This area is well wooded and contains some fine trees which it is proposed to inspect in company with two or three experts who will be present to identify the trees.

It is also intended to collect specimens of tree leaves with a view to building up a herbarium for the Society.

Owing to the distance from town, 28.5 miles from the Meyrick Park turn off on the Gatooma Road, this will be an all day outing.  Members must bring their own refreshments, but the Committee will provide hot water.

There are a number of attractive views of the Lake to be had from the Road and Acacia Point itself affords one of the best views.  The road from the turn off is not much used as yet and is in a reasonably good condition.  Members are requested to exercise consideration and to keep to a moderate speed.

Ed. The name of the current President or the writer of this article is not given, sadly.