The following is a summary of the news, events and happenings of the Tree Society of Rhodesia from the records we have available for 1978


Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 1 January 1978

 Dear Member,

We had a quiet December, our only engagement in Salisbury being that of Tuesday 6th when we spent an interesting hour or so in the late afternoon with Mr. Tom Muller at the Botanic Garden.

Matabeleland members spent a pleasant Sunday 4th at the Matopos Research Station.  There ought to be a little more to report on the latter expedition when the February programme comes to hand.  There is no meeting scheduled for Matabeleland members in January.

Sunday January 15th 1978: Duncombe, Concession, by kind permission of Mr. C. R. Fenwick.  This beautiful granite kopje area with gentle climbs, surrounded by red soil – a geological anomaly on which I hope we will get information from the more geologically gifted of our members in due course.  Please reserve you bus seats through Mr. Pearce s usual.

Tuesday January 17th:  Botanic Garden walk. 1700 hours.  Acacias.

The change on this occasion, from the first Tuesday of the month to the 3rd Tuesday, is due to the remote possibility that Mr. Denzil Carr, the distinguished author of “The South African Acacias” will be in Salisbury and will be able to accompany us.

This is a gamble which might not come off.  In fairness to members, and to Mar Carr, I must stress that Mr. Carr has not been approached yet.  The length of his stay in Salisbury is uncertain, and the only thing definite about his itinerary is that he has an awful lot to fit in, in a short time.

Present indications are that he will be in Rhodesia around about this time but for all I know, on the 17th January he could be anywhere between Bulalima Mangwe and Haroni Lusitu.  Anyway Mr. Muller has kindly agreed to hold that afternoon open for an Acacia talk, whether we have the privilege of Mr. Carr’s company or not.

May 1978 be good to you all.




The Chair was taken by the President, Mr. R. W. Petheram, who declared the meeting open and welcomed the 34 members present.

The President requested members to stand in silence for a few moments as a mark of respect to members who had died since last we met, and all of those who had given their lives so that we could continue to have the freedom to pursue our activities in the countryside.

THE NOTICE CONVENING THE MEETING was read by the Secretary.



These had been circulated before the meeting.  Mr. J Reid pointed out that in recommending for consideration, in the course of the 1976 AGM a change to the Constitution, he had in mind the possibility of the rates of subscriptions being fixed by each AGM for the next ensuing year, not for “that year” as the Minutes had implied.  This alteration to the Minutes was accepted without question, and the Chairman commented that, in the light of discussion with Mr. Reid his Report for the year included direct reference to the proposal.

Subject to that amendment, the Minutes were unanimously adopted, on a proposal by Mr Ellert, seconded by Mr. Pearce.  There were no further “matters arising’.


The President’s review of the Society’s activities during 1976 was well received.  The Report was subsequently distributed with a Newsletter.


The adoption of the Financial Statement was proposed by Mr. Hall, seconded by Mr. Reid and approved.  Mr. Irvine asked why the furniture had not been depreciated.  It was agreed that the desirability of introducing a depreciation factor in this item should be borne in mind by the incoming committee.


With the exception of the post of Secretary, the entire Committee was unanimously re-elected, proposed by Mr. Jones, seconded by Mr. Reid.  The position of Secretary was being taken over by Mme. M Boin, proposed by Mr. Petheram, seconded by Mr. Airey.

In his Report already delivered to the meeting, the Chairman paid tribute to Mrs. M. Batten, who had carried out the secretarial duties for three successive years and had decided, on this occasion, to stand down.

President                            Mr. R. W. Petheram                        Hon Treasurer                   Mrs. B. Tunney

Vice President                   Mrs. L. Irvine                                      Hon. Secretary                  Mme. M. Boin

Committee                         Messrs. Airey, Hall, Pearce,    Mesdames Duncanson, Masterson


Miss Lab asked how we could get trees included in the Natural History radio programme  Discussion indicated that there was general acceptance of the idea that this suggestion should be followed up.

Mr. Trevor Gordon proposed a sincere vote of thanks the President,  he expressed the opinion that the year’s activities had put the Tree Society “on the map”

The Chairman reported on a “Group Tour” of the Victoria Falls which was being sponsored by the Tourist Board in April.  It was aimed particularly at Floral groups and similar organizations.  Details would be reported in the next Newsletter.

Mr. Airey congratulated Mr. Petheram on his year of office as President and his report on Historical Trees.

After the break for tea at the conclusion of the meeting, a most appreciative audience was given an extremely interesting and entertaining slide show and talk by Mr. Trevor Gordon.  The show was in the nature of a travelogue, with spectacular contrasts of scenery in places as widely disparate as Cyprus, South West Africa and England.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 2 February 1978

 Dear Member,

The 1978 programme got off to a promising start, due to great good fortune with the weather, and much kindness and co-operation from friends who put themselves out on our behalf.

While more than an inch of rain fell over Salisbury on Sunday 15th January we were welcomed to “Duncombe”, Concession, in glorious weather by our host, Mr. C. R. Fenwick and his daughter Wray.  The farm embraces an extensive kopje area of massive granite boulders, surrounded by red soils, a geological phenomenon on which Dix Airey of the Ministry of Mines could have commented knowledgeably to us, had he not been asked, about 24 hours beforehand, to take off in another direction on official business.  He would probably have been justified in ‘taking off’ figuratively as well, when the writer completely forgot to stop the bus on the way, to pick up a geological map made available by him especially for the journey; but a generous assurance has been received to the effect that all is forgiven, if not forgotten.

To nature lovers in Rhodesia the granite kopjes are a world apart.  When the rains have lent them a miraculous freshness, when they are clothed in infinite shades of summer green, when they are adorned with kirkias, sterculias, commiphoras and ‘mountain acacia’ and studded with ‘firebushes’ (Hymenodictyon) showing just a hint of the burnished copper which will dazzle the eye in the late afternoon sun of March and April, there is, in them, a hint of paradise.

There was an astonishing variety of trees at Duncombe.  Apodytes dimidiata we last saw in the Marandellas area.  This, I must confess, I brought home from a recce of Duncombe for Mr. Drummond’s confirmation.  I don’t think we saw another on Sunday.  Albizia tanganyicensis was unexpected with its pealing bark and magnificent foliage.  It was last recorded by us on the kopjes near the Dichwe Lemon Forest.  Triaspis macropteron subsp. massaiensis, a handsome flowering mass of which was growing near the rock paintings, is usually associated with lower altitudes.  Uapaca nitida, the smaller brother of the Mahobohobo, Uapaca kirkiana, we have come to expect in the Mazoe Concession area and we were not disappointed. There was an impressive grove of both species.  It was one of many fascinating features of the walk.  There was another sudden change when Protea angolensis became the dominant species for a little while.  We do not often come across Heteropyxis natalensis, the ‘lavender tree’ although it is not rare.  We found it in some abundance at Calgary, Mazoe, a couple of years ago and we saw it again on this outing.  Both Monotes glaber and Monotes engleri were seen, and also Dalbergia nitidula with its purple heartwood. There were four Commiphoras, C. africana, C. marlothii, C. mollis and C. mossambicensis.  While they can be striking when stark and leafless, which they are for most of the year, they are very attractive right now in full leaf.  The lovely, white flowering Holarrhena pubescens, another species which is more common at lower altitudes, was unfortunately past the flowering stage, so was the ‘violet tree’ Securidaca longepedunculata, and the ‘pink jacaranda’, Stereospermum kunthianum.  Ormocarpum kirkii appeared once or twice, to keep us on our toes.  We don’t come across it with marked frequency.

The Mukwa, Pterocarpus angolensis, was at its graceful best, with the immature pale green hedgehog pods blending into the foliage.  In characteristic fashion, Ficus natalensis, Diospyros natalensis subsp nummularia and Erythroxylum emarginatum chose the greyness of the boulders against which to display to best advantage, their dark green leaves.  Pouzolzia hypoleuca, the soap bush, with its whitish under leaf, occurred frequently for variety, and in a couple of places so did Brachylaena rotundata, with its similarly contrasting leaf surfaces.  Phyllanthus discoideus, now Margaritaria discoideus, was quite common, and, while name changes are fresh in mind, Pavetta assimilis, now Pavetta gardeniifolia, was also there.  So was P. schumanniana.

Zanha africana seemed to like the environment and there was a particularly good specimen in the higher reaches of the morning walk.  The Muhacha trees, Parinari curatellifolia, were rather stunted, as they are on some of the Mazoe kopjes.  Perhaps the drainage is not good for their liking.  But a mass of other species, growing happily and well, included the ‘duiker’ or ‘kudu’ berry Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia, with lots of fruit on some of the trees, Peltophorum africanum, the Rhodesian wattle, Diospyros kirkii, Vitex payos, the chocolate berry, Garcinia huillensis, Erythrina latissima and E. abyssinica, three species of Strychnos, S. spinosa, S. innocua and S. madagascariensis, two of Ximenia, X. caffra and X. americana, the snake bean, Swartzia madagascariensis, the rubber tree, Diplorhynchus condylocarpon, three Terminalias, T. stenostachya, T. sericea and T. mollis, and a host of others.  The final count was 110, quite apart from a remarkable array of smaller plants including several species of Indigofera, Deliches, Aloes, vlei lilies and flame lilies, with some of the latter still in splendid flower.  Among these smaller species there were two in particular which seemed to interest Mr. Drummond from the viewpoint of plant distribution.  One was a Helichrysum and the other a plant, of the PERIPLOCACEAE family, called Raphionacme welwitschii.  This was found by Mrs. Masterson.

In the afternoon, while some of us ascended a gradient of 1 in 2 to look at the “lower slopes” near at hand, others accompanied Miss Fenwick to see her herb garden which they found most enlightening.  Few, I think, expected to see an enterprise of quite such size and scope.

To Mr. and Mrs. Fenwick and Miss Wray Fenwick go our sincere thanks for a memorable day.  We regretted only that Mrs. Fenwick was unable to meet the party.  The warmth of her welcome during the ‘recce’ was greatly appreciated.  Without Charles and Wray we would have roamed the kopjes like a band of wandering minstrels.  With them as our guides we were able to set off with some purpose, and to do a circuit of wide contrasts.

We were glad to meet, also, close neighbours of the Fenwick’s and other visitors from the area, and it was good to be joined by Mr. Arkell, a member whom we have not had the pleasure of seeing for some time.

I must again record what a boon it is to have with us Mr. Robert Drummond when he can manage to join us, and, of course, our old and steadfast friend and supporter, Mr. Trevor Gordon.


Two Days later, it seemed that there was very little hope of members meeting Mr. Denzil Carr at the Botanic Garden as tentatively arranged, and of having the privilege of a discussion with Mr. Carr and Mr. Muller together in the Acacia section of the Garden.  But the rain which teemed down at 1655 hours, lightened at 1715 and lifted soon after, to the great relief of 30 members who had braved the elements.  It was an informative and thoroughly enjoyable “session”.  We are indebted as always to Mr. Tom Muller for placing himself and his facilities at our service, and on this occasion we are especially grateful to Mr. Carr for all he did to fulfill our wish to meet him.  This included a couple of changes of plan and the initial missing of a flight from S. Africa, but he took it all in his stride.  In the background too, there was a lot of smart staff work by Mr. and Mrs. Irvine with whom Mr. and Mrs. Carr are staying.  Thank you, Douglas and Lola.

Denzil Carr is spending a short time in Rhodesia on this occasion, but we hope to see more of him and Dorothy when they return to pursue the study of six or seven species of Acacia which occur south of the Zambezi but not south of the Limpopo.  There might be a possibility of incorporating these in a later edition of “The South African Acacias”.  One hopes so.


Mr.  Alex Dry writes  “Our final outing for 1977 was to the outskirts of the Matopos region where we enjoyed a tour arranged and conducted by Robin Deny and Peter Dye, both of whom we thank most sincerely.  The trees were in very fine shape and we were especially interested in the identification of an Erythrococca menyharthii.

Our first outing in 1978 is once again close to town.  We shall inspect an area on Circular Drive above the Hillside dams where two adjacent but completely different kinds of soil produce their own varieties of trees.  Meet on Sunday 5th February at 0830 at the junction of the Old Essexvale Road and Fortune’s Gate Road.”

Yours sincerely,



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 3 March 1978

 Dear Member,

The Annual Report for 1978 is enclosed.  It touches on a miscellany of subjects, most of which are still very much alive, and in some cases contentious.  On every one of them the views of members would be welcome, so if you are moved to ring or write, please do so as soon as the thought occurs.  If you leave it to ‘some more convenient time’ you will never do it.


“Our last outing, which was to an area of Circular Drive was a very pleasant occasion thanks to the guidance of Mr. and Mrs. Archer.  Interest in the area was by no means exhausted, the hunger pangs of some of our members saw to that! So everyone will be pleased that we return to this lovely and very accessible area for our next expedition.

On Sunday March 5th we shall have with us Mr. Mike Gardner, noted lepidopterist, who has chosen the Circular Drive terrain as the most suitable to demonstrate the interaction between trees and moths, particularly the emperor and hawk varieties.  We look forward to an unusually interesting morning.

Meet, as last month, at 0830 hours on the intersection of Essexvale and Fortune’s Gate Roads.”


The weather smiled on us again during our visit to Mr. and Mrs. T. Gordon at Audley End, Darwendale, on the 19th February.

Both as a stimulating innovation and in case it came down in torrents, Trevor had gone to the endless trouble to lay out on long trestle tables in a tobacco barn, no less than 75 leaf specimens, with fruit or flowers where possible, of indigenous plants from the farm.

Each specimen was numbered, and on the lists, also provided, there were columns for genus, species and family.

It provided great fun and free rein to writers of both fact and fiction.

Mrs. May Gordon attended to our revival from mental exhaustion with tea and tasty trimmings; and during the tea break Trevor read out the answers to the plant identification test, awarding one point for each correct genus, one for the species and five for the family.

The winner was too modest to declare her score, but no one had any doubt about her identity.

There were some imaginative guesses prompted by the less usual specimens, some inspired and some not so inspired.  In any case, there should be a law against the display of immature baobab leaves.

The more studious, or experienced and botanically minded, are moderately well up on families, but Trevor’s little competition apart from its very real entertainment value, was a gentle and timely reminder that we are inclined to drift along without paying due attention to the greater understanding and enjoyment we could get from a little more thought and attention to that aspect.

The quiz, and the tea, was the afternoon culmination of a most enjoyable day.  The morning was taken up with a leisurely, relaxing walk through enchanting woodland in which because of the sheer loveliness and variety of trees and shrubs and rocks and promontories and nooks with greenery towering above or spilling into them, we took in more than sixty species without any thought of checking on the field card.  There were lots more we could have seen, but that wasn’t the object of the exercise.

It was a typical – or should I say, traditionally enjoyable, Audley End day.  Our thanks to Trevor and May.

The AGM held on 22nd February was well attended, gratifyingly so, when one considers the unpromising looking weather and the powerful counter attraction of the master pianist, Peter Katin.  However, due very largely, I imagine, to our good fortune in obtaining the consent of Professor Hiram Wild to address the meeting, we had a good turnout.

Despite the gremlins that seem to gather in strength whenever we plan a slide show at the QVM Auditorium, they are particularly expert in blowing globes; Professor Wild calmly surmounted all obstacles and gave us a fascinating talk on “Tree distribution in Rhodesia”.

To quote one of our younger members, the Prof. “kept his cool’ most effectively and entertainingly, and I have written to ask him whether he would consider another “illustrated” talk to us, without the delays and frustrations of an AGM to precede it.

During February the AGM of the Ayshire Branch was also held.  Trevor Gordon and I attended the very pleasant meeting.  I have not got the official list of Ayrshire office bearers.  It will be published as soon as possible.

The office bearers in the central committee for 1978 are as follows :

President                            Mr. R. W. Petheram                        Vice President                   Mr. G. R. Hall

Hon. Treasurer                  Mrs. B. E. Tunney                             Hon. Secretary                  Vacant – any volunteers

Committee members    Mrs. L. Irvine, Mrs. S. M. Duncanson, Mrs. G. M. Masterson, Mr. A.F.W. Pearce

Mr. N.  M. Airey

Yours sincerely,




We were fortunate, during the year, in being able to continue fairly widespread visits.  They included in the S. W. Miss Tredgold’s farm on the Hunyani, Atlantica Ecological Research Station and Lake McIlwaine.  In the N.W. we spent a day on Mr. Le Clus’ farm and another at Dichwe Lemon Forest, both a long way out, and we also visited Mr. D. G. Black’s farm, Rockdale, much nearer home.  The lovely Spelonken area bordering the Mazoe Dam beckoned us on an expedition more directly to the North of us and, swinging eastward, we roamed over kopje and stream on Liwonde farm near Goromonzi.  Further S.E. there was an unforgettable outing at Strafford, the Vandoros’ farm between Marandellas and Wedza.

Our recent Concession and Darwendale visits strictly belong to the next report, the 1978 one, but the enjoyable flavor of both still lingers.

The visits were generally well attended.  Mr. Pearce’s bus arrangements worked with traditional precision, we only sank one bus up to the axles, we saw many miles of delightful country, and we met a lot of warm hearted and hospitable hosts.  The members in charge of Police Stations all over the place, who were always asked 48 hours beforehand if they thought we were likely to be an embarrassment to them, were co-operative and understanding, although at times hard put to it to conceal both amazement and amusement at the eccentricity of people setting off by the bus load for miles, for the sake of trees.  Inevitably, one wanted to know whether we looked at them or climbed them.

On two of our outings we were delighted to be joined by Ayrshire Branch members.

With the unfailing kindness and co-operation of Mr. Muller and Mr. Drummond, the monthly visits to the Botanic Garden continued.  These are the envy of tree loving visitors to Salisbury and an unfailing source of enjoyment to those of us who are lucky enough to be able to attend them.

The Saplings had some interesting outings also.  Mrs. Masterson and I discontinued them when the rains set in, but we hope to revive them after the rains, if that is acceptable to the new committee and we look forward to seeing new members as well as our ‘regulars’.

On every Tuesday afternoon, anybody so inclined had the opportunity of joining Mr. and Mrs. Reid and their small group of dedicated colleagues on their walks in the Makabusi Woodlands.

The Matabeleland Branch notes in the Newsletter conjure up tantalizing pictures of places visited down there.  I wish we could join them now and then.


Binga Swamp Forest: Work has continued quietly out at Arcturus and we are again indebted to the Henderson Research Station Weed Research Unit, and to Mr. Paul Richards in particular, for help without which we would have lost the battle to save the forest.  In my last report I mentioned that the NRB in consultation with Conex and in collaboration with the Arcturus Rural Council was negotiating with the landowner in the hope of bringing about modifications in land use there.

There have been further developments along these lines, and much depends now on whether the NRB can find the money for additional fencing which would bring a substantially larger area of vlei land under control with the object of trying to re-establish a high water table.

Mr. S. Carey, as always, has been ready to assist whenever his help has been sought at Arcturus, and I wish to acknowledge also the considerable help and encouragement received from Mr. John Davison, Regional Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and from a valued member of this society who also happens to be the Group Conservation and Extension Officer for Mashonaland South, Mr. R. Winkfield.  Mr. P. Clark of Arcturus has also kindly helped in discussions with Mr. Tselentis, the owner, and it is the owner, finally, to whom I must pay tribute for his willingness to consider a fencing and grazing scheme devised by Richard Winkfield, which we believe will help both the farmer and the forest.

It is early to say positively whether anything will come of all this, but it is worth trying.

Lake McIlwaine Arboretum:  We have paid one official visit to the Arboretum, but there have been two or three ad hoc visits by members and my wife and I accompanied the Natural Resources Society on one occasion.

I regret to have to report that the shelter has been broken into and our few belongings stolen.

One wooden bench, the only moveable asset left intact, has been taken into safekeeping by the Water Bailiff, and the Warden of the Park has promised to mount occasional day patrols in the area.  Night patrols are forbidden by the Security authorities at the moment.

Makabusi Woodland: The Conservation Trust agreed some time ago to grant $5 000 towards the establishment of a Conservation Centre in the Makabusi Woodland, subject to the negotiation of a satisfactory lease with the City Council, and on the understanding that the Trust would thereafter withdraw and assign its rights and obligations in terms of the lease to a Management Committee.  The lease was duly drafted during the course of the ear and a sort of embryonic management committee took shape, composed mainly of representatives of organizations affiliated to the Conservation Trust.  The Tree Society is represented by Mr. George Hall and myself.

Perhaps the term ‘embryonic’ is inappropriate.  The stage of formation is more advanced.  Indeed we found ourselves spawned and motherless, with a promise of $5 000 when we came of age, but with no one to vouch for our legitimacy in the interim.

Before I draw too freely on the imagery of midwifery, birth registration and inheritance, I hasten to say that from the Conservation Trust we have received the utmost goodwill, and we are in the process of trying to persuade the Trust to assume a maternal, as well as an avuncular financial interest in our well being.

In whatever manner the matter is resolved, there is one thing I must make clear.  The Woodland is a potentially superb conservation centre, a conservation education centre, right on our doorstep.  The outstandingly far sighted man, the late Douglas Aylen, battled for its preservation for years, and won his battle at a time when the Municipality was planning to turn it into a residential area.

There were others campaigning very actively at the time, and I do not wish to under rate their contribution, but no one, individually, played a more significant and effective part than Douglas Aylen.

Well, this brings us to the crux of the matter.  Constitutional problems are being ironed out with the Conservation Trust, but financial problems change rapidly in magnitude from year to year and I firmly believe that it will be an obligation on the incoming committee to launch an appeal for funds for the furtherance of this project.  Some other societies such as the Wild Life Society and the Ornithological Society have set aside substantial funds for this purpose.  I don’t think we can hope to compete with them unless one of us wins the Sweep, but we must play our part even in a modest way.

I hope to touch more specifically on this when we come to item 6 on the Agenda, the Treasurer’s Report.  We have a little to spare at the moment.  If we have any faith in the future of the country in general and the Makabusi Woodland in particular we must find more.

National Trust Properties: Mr. Colin Williams has represented this Society throughout the year on the National Trust project relating to the Epworth Balancing Rocks area.  I am sincerely grateful to Colin for his anticipation in this, and for the calm maturity of his approach.

What is of prime importance, I believe, is that the National Trust, which incidentally became a welcome member of this Society in 1976, must ensure that the Epworth Mission residents have a true appreciation of the purpose of the project, the conservation aims and the long term benefits that can flow there from.

While on the subject of National Trust properties, the Matabeleland branch of our Society has compiled a very impressive list of trees and shrubs at Mabukuwene.  The list was published as an addendum to our October Newsletter.

National Parks : There has been correspondence with the Director of National Parks and Wild Life Management on the subject of giving greater coverage in National Parks pamphlets and literature, to the vegetation with the Parks and Game Reserves, and to its importance in the scheme of things.

The Director has indicated that this is not out of keeping with the Department’s plans, but that he does not favour the labeling of trees because of the alleged frequency of name changes. We are not quite in accord on this point, but it was not the main purpose of our approach.

Avondale Parkland and Strathaven : Although not a formally adopted Tree Society project, the Avondale Parkland development scheme has received a considerable amount of moral and practical support from individual members of the Society.  It is taking shape well and is flourishing and an equally promising start has been made on an area in Strathaven.

Trees of Historic Interest:  Last year’s report recorded the fact that the National Museums and Monuments Commission had agreed to erect plaques at Filabusi on the old Combretum imberbe used as a staging post by Zeederburg coaches and at Goromonzi where a Golden Cypress was planted by Major Nesbitt, V.C.  Neither promise has so far been fulfilled owing to the need to balance other priorities against the pressure of military commitments of staff.

Rhodesia’s Hardwood Timber Resources: I will not bore you with details of the reams of correspondence which has taken place on this subject.  However, it is worthy of note that the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Rhodesia’s hardwood timber resources was published during the year.  Many of the recommendations were in line with those hoped for in the evidence submitted, both orally and in writing by this Society.  But such is the indifference or seeming indifference among our Parliamentary representatives to anything concerning indigenous trees that the debate on the report in the Legislative Assembly generated all the warmth, stimulation and excitement of a damp squib.

A recent editorial in the Rhodesia Herald has provided an avenue of approach to the public, in an endeavour to rouse public consciousness of some of the dangers of excessive destruction of indigenous trees.  I have therefore written to the Editor notwithstanding deep rooted misgivings about the wisdom of writing to the Press, and notwithstanding an appreciation of the fact that the Tree Society if fundamentally a hobby society and not a crusading one.  Whether the letter will be published remains to be seen.  If it is, I hope it is not in mutilated form.

I do not wish to inflect controversy on the Society, but I truly believe that enjoyment of any hobby associated with the natural environment, carries with it an implied responsibility to protect that environment within reason.

Young Scientist’s Exhibition:  The Society’s $20 award was won by P. Kumalo of Gwelo Training College, for a study of galls on Msasa leaves.

No less than three scholarships were awarded on the strength of research exhibits on trees and one of these also earned the Grand Winner Prize.

I believe our $20 award could be increased by a little for the next exhibition without breaking the bank.

Protected Plants:  We responded to an invitation from the Indigenous Plant Advisory Committee to make recommendations on the subject of plants in need of protection under the Parks and Wild Life Act.

I understand from discussions with the Chairman of the Committee that apart from giving attention to amendments of the Schedule to the Act, which lists those plants which are in need of overall protection, the Sabi Star, the Flame Lily and the Raphia Palm are already on the Schedule.  Conservation Committees all over the country have had their attention jolted, particularly to section 6 of the Act which provides that after consulting the NRB and the conservation committee concerned, the Minister may extend local protection to any indigenous plant which is rare or threatened by over utilization in a particular area.

Another point which came out in discussion is that large numbers and large areas of trees are in National Parks where they are automatically protected.

Indigenous Plants in Garden Nurseries :  24 Garden Nurseries out of about 90 replied to enquiries from us concerning the availability of indigenous seedlings, and 12 or 13 had some available.  A few in fact had a heartening range of them, as members may have gathered from the list which accompanied the July Newsletter.

My hope is that during our future outings we will collect a moderate number of seeds if we find mature ones on attractive bushes, and drop them in on our nearest Garden Nursery with the suggestion that they try to propagate them and include them in their catalogues.

General – Mauritius thorn:  The security situation has given rise to an increase in the number of enquiries about the desirability of Mauritius thorn as a protective hedge.  Our experience with this horror in the swamp forest near Arcturus has left me personally with a very deep antipathy towards it, and with so much concern about its menacing properties that I urged Government two years ago to ban its use and declare it a noxious weed.  This, they would not do, and I must in fairness report that experimental plantings and observations over the last two years have shown that, other than in exceptional circumstances, in swamp conditions and similar special environments such as gwashas in high rainfall areas, there seems little likelihood of its getting out of control  There are some patches of it on the Marandellas road and near the Lomagundi and Mazoe roads which, I gather, have been quite stable for many years and the same is said to apply to patches in the Mt. Selinda and Melsetter areas.

So, not without some misgivings, I must say that in the interests of security it might be prejudicial in reply to enquiries, to condemn Mauritius thorn out of hand.  Always stress the potential dangers in swamp and high rainfall areas though, and the need for constant surveillance and control.

Also, I suggest, remind people that if they can get the seeds, there are equally effective but less environmentally dangerous than indigenous plants worth trying, e.g. Toddalia asiatica in the Eastern districts, and in many other areas of the country the “red wing” creeper Pterolobium stellatum, and Acacias such as A. schweinfurthii, A ataxacantha, A. erubescens and A. fleckii.

Proposed formation of a confederation of bodies interested in conservation:  We have recently received from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources a suggestion that societies such as our own should take a lead from ARNI, ACCOR, the RNFU and the National Arts Council and so on, and combine to recognize some organization as the co-coordinating body through which all conservation matters could be channeled to or from Government or its conservation agencies.

More specifically, the Ministry has suggested that the Conservation Trust might be a suitable coordinating agency.

I was recently authorized by your committee to reply, expressing cautious interest, pointing out that our affiliation to the Conservation Trust already indicated a wish to associate with similarly minded societies, but asking for more information on the purpose of the proposal, the manner of its operation and the degree of autonomy and official recognition to be retained by individual societies.

The outgoing committee:  I wish to express my very sincere thanks to all members of the Committee for their truly tremendous support and encouragement.  I owe them an apology because our committee meetings are long ones.  There always seems such an awful lot to discuss.  But while their patience must often have been tried, their interest, and active interest at that, never flags, and I have therefore the honour to report to you, with gratitude, that whatever the idiosyncrasies of the Chairman, the Committee has ‘done the society proud’.

I know you will forgive me for using this forum to say yet another ‘thank you’ this time to Edone, my wife, for all her help behind the scenes.

Membership:  There have been quite a lot of changes and it has been sad to say goodbye to several old friends.  But numbers have remained surprisingly constant.  Today’s count, I think I am right in saying is 67 doubles and 165 singles.  Membership remains therefore at about 300 and I extend a special welcome to all new members.  I can think of no more sincere form of welcome than to wish them the same immense joy that the rest of us derive from the trees with which we are blessed.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 4 April 1978

 Dear Member,

Just in case we were taking our special weather dispensation too much for granted, the rains caught up with us during the Botanic Garden walk on the afternoon of Tuesday 7th March, and the small party in attendance was drenched.  The party included Mr. Robert Drummond who, I afterwards learnt from another source, had hurried back from an outside engagement to show us around.  This was typical of the unfailing courtesy and encouragement we receive from everyone connected with the National Herbarium and National Botanic Garden, and I feel it appropriate to begin the new Committee’s year by repeating our sincere thanks to Mr. Muller and Mr. Drummond and their associates.

The weather relented on Sunday 18th March.  It reverted to the favoured treatment we have so far received on the third Sunday of each month, and so enabled us to enjoy to the full the serenity of the lovely stretch of woodland which is careful preserved within Arbor Acres.  Mrs. Pat Bellingan was unfortunately unable to join us, but for the warmth of her invitation, for all the arrangements she made, and for all the thought she devoted to choosing a route which would be negotiable in all conditions, we are most grateful.  In a letter to Mrs. Bellingan I have expressed our thanks also to Mr. Mower who squeezed into an already very full managerial programme, time to supervise road repairs and clear a track for ease of access.  What is more, he finally escorted the leading cars right through to the newly cleared parking area.

The check list compiled during our visit two years ago, with the few additions arising from our recent visit, shows a very representative range of vegetation typical of Brachystegia woodland on sandveld.

A little out of the ordinary was the quantity of some of the species.  Apart from msasa, Brachystegia spiciformis and munondo, Julbernardia globiflora, the snow berry, Securinega virosa, and the soap bush, Pouzolzia mixta, flourished throughout the area, vying for numerical pride of place with the shrub Hoslundia opposita.  The Chinese lantern tree, or the Palgrave “sickle bush” Dichrostachys cinerea, the trifoliate Allophylus africanus, Clerodendrum glabrum, Turraea nilotica, Ziziphus mucronata, Zanha africana and Ximenia caffra, one of the sour plums, were all fairly plentiful.  I’d have thought that there would have been more Monotes glaber in that environment, but we covered only a small segment of the area, and there might well have been a grove of them further in.

The family COMBRETACEAE was prominently represented by Terminalia sericea, and to a lesser degree by Combretum molle and Combretum zeyheri.  In some places the two Combretums were growing side by side.  A good specimen of Terminalia mollis with its large leaves, stood out in the belt of trees bordering the access track.

The Gardenia family, RUBIACEAE, whose members are so often distinguished by their simple opposite leaves, coupled with interpetiolar stipules, was quite lavishly represented.  In this family, the most common species were Canthium huillense, Gardenia spathulifolia, Tarenna neurophylla, Vangueria infausta, Vangueriopsis lanciflora, Pavetta gardeniifolia, which, until recently, was Pavetta assimilis, and Pavetta schumanniana, while here and there; the thorny Xeromphis obovata was almost forming thickets.  Of the same family, Psychotria kirkii also occurred, particularly attractive with fruit turning pink and red. It shares, with the Pavettas, the peculiarity of “dots” of nitrogen fixing bacteria in the leaves.  Also present was Canthium lactescens, with its large, broad based opposite leaves and the prominent node in between the terminal pair.

In the Ebony family, EBENACEAE, there was Euclea divinorum, Euclea natalensis, Euclea crispa and Diospyros lycioides.  Some plants of the last two were in fruit.  The principal Acacia was A. sieberiana and the principal, and only, Commiphora, Commiphora mollis.  There were some strikingly tall specimens of Euphorbia ingens.  Burkea africana was full of pod and Peltophorum africanum lightly so.  The mukwa, Pterocarpus angolensis, also displayed some pods, with the ‘hedgehogs’ nestling in the centre, but there seemed to be no sign of fruit on its cousin Pterocarpus rotundifolius.  Other trees we came across were Albizia antunesiana and A. amara, Dombeya rotundifolia, Ficus burkei, Erythrina abyssinica, Cassine aethiopica, Cussonia arborea, Faurea speciosa, Flacourtia indica and three species of Grewia.  The shrubs included Protea angolensis and Ehretia amoenaOchna schweinfurthiana was quite common, and O. pulchra less so.  There was lots of Indogofera and a fair number of Steganotaenia araliacea.  Both Strychnos cocculoides and S. spinosa occurred.  One or two Swartzia madagascariensis flaunted their ‘snake bean’ fruits.  The muhacha, Parinari curatellifolia was variable in size and Ozoroa reticulata occurred only in moderate quantity and bulk.  The Rhodesian holly, Psorospermum febrifugum made an occasional appearance.  Lannea discolor was quite plentiful, and its almost ground hugging but large leafed relation Lannea edulis even more so.

One small Indaba tree, Pappea capensis, was noted; it was interesting also to see Hexalobus monopetalus in one place; and the find of the day, by Mrs. Masterson, was Schrebera alata.  This we very seldom encounter.  We spent some time examining its compound leaf structure, with its distinctly winged rachis.  It has a woody pear shaped fruit like its relation Schrebera trichoclada, but there was no fruit to be seen.


Herewith the Bulawayo bulletin.  It shows yet again Bulawayo’s flair for something different.

“As promised, our last meeting on March 5th, was different from the usual.  Mr. Mike Gardner, our guide for the morning, certainly managed to pass on some of his interest in moths and their larvae to us mere tree lovers.  He had an unusual point of view; when he saw a tree sadly moth eaten he would say it had been cleaned for new growth!  We learnt that the hawk moth larvae is so well camouflaged that it is very difficult to find  – a fact proved on our outing when we could not find a single one, even when we did, rarely find tell tale droppings below Diplorhynchus condylocarpon. 

Thank you Mr. Gardner for a most interesting morning.

Our next outing is on April 2nd and will take the form of an out of doors group study of how to use the keys in Coates Palgrave’s new Tree Book.  Bring along your copy of the book; if you do not possess one, come along anyway, your needs will be catered for.  We will met at 0830 at the junction of St. Lukes Road and the Johannesburg Road.  On May 7th we hope to visit the Kalahari sandveld area at the Criterion Waterworks.”

Rhodesiana Society – History The offer in the enclosed application form is open to all members of the Tree Society.  I understand that most of the prints will depict succulents.

Ayrshire Branch

 The Officers of the Ayrshire Branch for the current year are :

Chairman                             Mr. G. G. Moore              Hon, Secretary  Mrs. B. Graves

Committee                         Mrs. A. A. Langfield, Mr. I. T. Barron, Mrs. Beth Jones

We wish them every success.

Acacia albida

 I am indebted to Mr. Jeremy Ascough for the following snippet of interest :

“Magic Trees in the Desert

Acacia albida are seen as magic trees in the dry poverty stricken countries of the Sahal in North Africa.  Emmett George, writing in “War of Hunger” (A.I.D. July 1977 pp 14-15) describes a Peace Corp project to plant 60 000 tree seedlings in Chad to provide wind breaks to reduce wind erosion, and to revitalize the near sterile soil by nitrogen fixation so that millet production will be possible again.

The seedlings are planted in rows across the barren land.  They are protected from goats by wooden picketing and from termites by old engine oil.  An 85%survival rate is reported.  The people are paid for two years with a food issue to plant and care for the trees.  Seedlings are provided by nurseries.  Research is in progress to evaluate other drought resistant trees and there is a national ban on all tree cutting.  W.J.A.”

Yours sincerely,



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 5 May 1978

 Dear Member,

The enjoyment of our visit to the Makabusi Woodland on the 16th April was greatly enhanced by the attendance of Mr. Ronnie James.  As a senior member of the Tree Society Ronnie is always very welcome.  As Manager of the Amenities Department, City of Salisbury, his knowledge of the history of the Makabusi Woodland project is unequalled, his enthusiasm is infectious, and the part he has played and continues to play in the conservation of the area is of major importance.

Others among our members who were present and who are playing a prominent part in current planning and committee work relevant to the Woodland were Mr. George Hall, our vice President and Mrs. D. D. Bratley.  Both are members of the Makabusi Woodland Committee which the writer is chairing for the moment. Mrs. Bratley represents the Natural Resources Society on that committee and is a member of the Environmental sub Committee.  George is a member and Hon Secretary of both the Environmental sub Committee and the Building sub-committee.  Ronnie James is Chairman of the latter … which must all be very confusing, but is intended to convey the message that, under the surface, a good deal of work and planning is going on in committees and sub-committees on which are represented the Municipality and various societies affiliated to the Conservation Trust.

Mention of Makabusi Woodland enthusiasts would be incomplete without reference to Mr. and Mrs. J. Reid.  Judy was there to add her special charm and knowledge of the Woodland to the sum total of our enjoyment, but we missed Jack and wish him a speedy recovery from his indisposition.

Plans for the development of a Conservation Centre with interpretative services and other facilities were outlined in general terms by Mr. James.  These will be described in more detail when committee discussions are further advanced.

As regards trees and shrubs, we were able to confirm the presence of a few species which we had listed previously but had not seen for some time.  The list numbers over 100.  The Makabusi was flowing strongly and the belt of trees bordering both banks of the river in the neighbourhood of the rock slide was in excellent fettle.  We did not have time to explore the Chiraura river but according to reports there is excessive encroachment of exotics in the river bed and a need for clearing operations during the year.

We took our lunch baskets to Cleveland Dam, and in the afternoon with the kind permission of Mr. Lenton, the acting Superintendent explored part of the woodland beyond the fence.  We saw nothing exceptional but it was a pleasant peaceful afternoon, in ideal weather.  Near the parking lot just before leaving, we discovered an unexpected Pappea capensis, Indaba tree, family SAPINDACEAE.


“Our next field trip” reports Mr. Alec Dry, “takes us only a short way out of Bulawayo to Mr. Jamieson’s Criterion Farm.  There we shall investigate several pleasant, interesting clusters of trees on red Kalahari sandveld.  Among the 50 varieties of trees are numerous small Diospyros lycioides presently in fruit.  Try them for a new taste experience.

Bring along your Coates Palgrave keys.

We meet at 0830 on the junction of Circular Drive and Burnside Road on Sunday 7th May.  The June outing will probably be to Government House to look at indigenous trees there”.


In April the Matabeleland Branch carried out a field study of the Keys of the new “Trees of Southern Africa”, Coates Palgrave.  The outing was held along the Johannesburg road, on a stretch where there are alternating belts of granite, ironstone and schist formations.  Naturally, nothing like a fully comprehensive test was possible in a single day’s outing, especially an outing cut short by rain.  Nonetheless the exercise was an interesting one, and is to be continued.  A pleasant aspect was the favourable reaction of new members, who felt that they learnt more than they would have done by “trailing around the bush”.

With the permission of Miss Janet Webber, Chairman of the Matabeleland Branch, and of Mrs. Meg Coates Palgrave, a note sent by the former to the latter is reproduced below.  I must stress again that time was limited, and I must also emphasize that the note was not originally written for publication.  Indeed, Miss Webber remarked, when I sought her permission, that if it was to be reproduced in the Newsletter, it would need editing, but I have found not the slightest need for that.

“First I must say how full of admiration we are for the adequacy of the book, its presentation, binding, drawings, photographs, maps, index and text.

Pages 17 to 22 are not numbered – possibly a modern printing technique?

‘decurrent’ – would you include this in the glossary as its meaning cannot easily be guessed?

The colour photographs are a great help in identification, as for example, when keying Euclea divinorum

One can look up the position and type of flower if it happens to be out of the flowering season.

Combretum molle keyed out well.

The Acacia keys which we used, robusta, karroo, gerrardii, were first rate.

We were relieved to find Rhus Rhus tenuinervis keyed out well as we anticipated problems due to leaf variation.

Returning to Euclea divinorum, we found that leaf petioles are not always characteristic, young growth being decurrent and older leaves petiolate.

In the text we queried Acacia nilotica pod odour, as it is more fruity than sweet.

There is a small printing omission of an “h”.  It is on p.755 in the paragraph below the map, line 6.

I think the foliage in Matabeleland is sometimes different from that in Mashonaland, but I mention the following points in case we might come across a subspecies.

Commiphora mollis leaves are not paler below.

Combretum apiculatum leaves here are tapered to the apical point, not rounded as drawn on p66.

Finally we found it a great relief to use keys which deal principally with leaves;  We note what you say about collecting herbarium specimens for an area not already included in the distribution map.”

Meg Coates Palgrave has kindly supplied the following supplementary note at my request :

“We are delighted that the Bulawayo Branch are so complimentary about the book and that they have found only one error, a typographical one.  We feel sure in a work of this size, and despite careful checking, mistakes will have slipped in, which will only be picked up when the book in being used.  So if anyone finds any mistake or has any suggestions or comments we really would like to know about them.  The Publishers have sent us a copy interleaved with blank pages so that changes, including the inevitable name changes, can be noted and included in future editions”.

I would add that the possibility of environmental, and seasonal, variations could provide considerable scope for research.  A good example is that of the Matabeleland observations on Commiphora mollis.  The leaves examined were not paler below.  Yet Meg Coates Palgrave has disclosed in conversation, that one of the factors behind the seeming contradiction in the Palgrave Key, is the fact that in the Botanic Garden in Salisbury, a greyer undersurface helps to distinguish the leaves of C. mollis from those of C. karibensis.

The term ‘decurrent’ by the way, is used ‘when the edges of the leaf are continued down the stem or petiole as raised lines or narrow wings”.  (Flora Zambesiaca. Vol. 1. Part 1).  See illustration (e) under the caption “Bases” on p. 917 of Palgrave.


This excellent little book is also in regular use by members, and both Mr. H. M. Biegel and Mr. S. Mavi are interested in comment and suggestions which could provide added interest and usefulness to a revised version sometime in the future.

In the meantime I have been authorized to inform members of a few alterations and additions which will be of interest to them and in doing so I propose after consultation to list the botanical name changes which have occurred since the last edition was published in 1972.  The information will be contained in a supplement to this newsletter or the next one.

Yours sincerely,




Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 6 June 1978

 Dear Member,

With the recent death of Col. McBean we lose a friend of very long standing, a Grand Old Man in every respect, and a staunch supporter of the Society for many years.  We extend to Mrs. McBean our heartfelt condolences, and we hope that there will be many occasions on which, with us, she will seek the balm of the woodlands in which we have enjoyed her company and “Macs” so often in the past.

Because several of us on the Committee will be away for a time, this letter is written before the Darwendale visit and will therefore be silent on an expedition which should provide much of interest.  Perhaps I will be able to persuade Mr. Gordon to prepare a short note for a later date.

Accompanying this letter will be a supplement containing amendments to the Rhodesian Botanical Dictionary, by courtesy of Mr. H. M. Biegel and Mr. S. Mavi.

Sunday June 18th: Mr. Jack Bowen’s farm, Rocky Ridge, near Hartley.  We hope to travel along the V.B.R. Gane Road, which branches off left at Selous, 74 km. from Salisbury.  At 90 km there is a small memorial to V.B.R. Gane, who was Chairman of the Selous Road Council for many years, and at this point we turn right, crossing the Umfuli about a kilometer further on.  Another kilometer brings us to a T junction, where we turn right again, and head towards Hartley.  Mr. Bowen has very kindly undertaken to meet us at his farm entrance which is about 97 km from Salisbury, and to conduct us to the Umfuli.  He is justly proud of the magnificent stretch of river bounding his property.  It is part of the Poole Dam.  On his side the riverine vegetation is fairly thin, but interesting.  There is a surprising amount of Strychnos potatorum, the large leaf Strychnos with a small black fruit, there are “sausage” trees, Kigelia africana, fig trees and violet trees, Combretums, Terminalias, Ziziphus, Cassine matabelica and Friesodielsia obovata with its very palatable red fruit and much else.  Kirkia and Sterculia abound on the kopjes some way off, and within a couple of hundred meters of the riverine, there is a really lovely belt of Mopane, with other species dotted here and there among them, including a Balanites aegyptiaca bush which I do not think we have seen on any outing since we visited Dinks Moubray’s farm, Chipoli, several years ago.  Along the road, if we return via Hartley which we might do, is an anthill with three fine trees on it, a Diospyros mespiliformis, a Pappea capensis and a Berchemia discolor.  There are masses of Brachystegia boehmii, mufti, and the rubber tree, Diplorhychnus condylocarpon.  A small stream on Mr. Bowen’s farm is called the Muchenarota.  This is the Shona name for Combretum imberbe, so be on the lookout for this “leadwood”, with its very rough bark, spiky new growth and small four winged pods.

Mr. and Mrs. Bianchi, near neighbours of Mr. Bowen, have done a great deal to arrange this visit and I am grateful to them.  We shall see them there, and I sincerely hope that we shall also see other members and friends from the district who find it difficult to join us on expeditions nearer Salisbury.


The Bulletin from Mr. Dry reads :  “We have been given permission to study the trees in the grounds of Government House, and will do so on Sunday 4th June.  There are some very fine trees in the area.  Meet at the junction of the Falls Road and the road that leads to Government House.  Time 0830 hours as usual.

On July 2nd we plan a visit to acacia thorn veld in the Waterford area.”

If anyone is interested in acquiring a copy of that magnificently illustrated Coates Palgrave book, “Trees of Central Africa”, published in 1956 they might care to drop a line addressed to me or Secretary or Treasurer, P.O. Box 2128, Salisbury.

Yours sincerely,




Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 7 July 1978

 Dear Member,

Some particularly vicious gremlins boarded the bus on Sunday 21st May, and created havoc under the bonnet on the Darwendale turn-off, with the result that the party did not reach Mr. Boshoff’s farm.  Mr. Alan Pearce performed miracles in summoning help and in arranging for the eventual arrival of a relief bus for the return journey.  It is remarkable how often, in times of stress, Alan’s calm resourcefulness comes to our aid.  Thanks again Alan.

Providentially also, Mr. Trevor Gordon was not too many miles away, and when that is the case the Society is never left for long without help and hospitality and entertainment.  On my return to Salisbury recently I found a copy of the following letter on the files.  It seems to me a particularly appropriate one

“Dear Trevor,

On behalf of the President and the Committee of the Tree Society, please accept our grateful appreciation for the ‘rescue’ operation you so kindly mounted to save the May monthly outing from complete failure.

I know I speak for Dick Petheram also, we both being unable to attend the May meeting, when I say that I am grateful for the fact that the breakdown contrived to happen so close to Audley Ed, and therefore so close to what has virtually become, for the Salisbury branch at least, the Tree Society’s spiritual home.

Our very best wishes to you and Mrs. Gordon,

Yours sincerely

George Hall.  Vice President.”

The June meeting was a delight.  No gremlins, perfect weather, the special blessing of shady trees and tranquil river, and the kindness and gentle courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. J. Bowen.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Mr. Jack Bowen’s farm, Rocky Ridge, a few miles from Hartley, has along one boundary magnificent stretch of river; part of the Poole Dam on the Umfuli.  A tributary flowing close to the homestead is called the Muchenarota, presumably after the leadwood tree,  ‘muchenarata’ is the Shona name.  We stopped  to look at one of these trees near Selous en route, and saw another on the farm, on the approach to the Umfuli.

In fruit, along the river were some of the many large leafed Strychnos trees, S. potatorum.  The fruits of these are small and black and, as far as I can ascertain, inedible.  Indeed, van Wyk in his “Trees of the Kruger National Park” states positively that they are poisonous.  The spiny ‘monkey orange’ tree, Strychnos spinosa, was also fruiting well.  Its large fruits, when mature and yellow, are edible.  The sausage tree, Kigelia africana, was festooned with fruit.  Others fruiting or in pod as we are apt to describe them, were some exceptionally large mukaratis, Burkea africana, Combretum apiculatum, Terminalia stenostachya, Acacia goetzei, subsequently confirmed at the Herbarium, and a couple of Albizias, A. amara or harveyi; we had no fireman’s ladder to make identification certain.  At least one big muchenje, Diospyros mespiliformis, was in fruit, and a batoka plum, Flacourtia indica.  Sparsely fruiting were one or two of the duiker berry trees, or rather kudu berry, Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia, and not so sparsely, the buffalo thorn, Ziziphus mucronata.  The spectacular red of the delectable fruit Friesodielsia obovata attracted our attention early on.  Another edible fruit in evidence was Azanza garckeana.  The pods of the monkey break tree, Piliostigma thonningii were huge.

Among other species along the river walk were the violet tree, Securidaca longepedunculata, the snow berry bush, Securinega virosa, Combretum fragrans with its leaves assuming their coppery winter hue, Acacia polyacantha, Cassine matabelica, Dichrostachys cinerea which sometimes forms thorny thickets but which, in moderate numbers, is attractive in the summer months with its pendulous pink and yellow flower spikes, Ximenia americana, an unusually large specimen of this sour plum, the marula, Sclerocarya caffra, the graceful Rhus lancea, Pterocarpus rotundifolius in some abundance and attractive little Mundulea sericea, Dombeya rotundifolia, Heteromorpha arborescens, the leaves of which are so often trifoliate terminally, with anything from two to five leaflets clustered a little lower down the stem from the terminal group, Euclea divinorum, Lonchocarpus capassa, the rain tree, and Hexalobus monopetalus.  Across the river, a blaze of ‘redwing’ glory, Pterolobium stellatum, borrowed all it could of the rays of the early afternoon sun, to signal a glow of welcome.

A long attractive grassy stretch with a Protea gaguedi prominent in the centre, separates the rich variety of trees on the riverine front from a beautiful Mopane belt with a character all its own.  We had not the time to do justice to this lovely area, particularly as we lingered to debate the mysteries of a leafless Ficus growing on one of the Mopanes, Colophospermum mopane, and an unidentified willowy tree growing out of a hollow mupfuti tree, Brachystegia boehmii.  The former had clusters of small figs on it and was leafless; the latter had alternate leaves which seemed at the time to contain no latex. However, Mr. Drummond has identified it unhesitatingly as Ficus nigropunctata, and although he has not yet seen the specimen with the fig clusters, the Herbarium specimens he has shown me leave little doubt about both mystery plants being the same thing.

Other trees seen included, Faurea saligna, Croton megalobotrys, Euclea natalensis, Gardenia jovis tonantis, Diplorhynchus condylocarpon, the rubber tree, Bauhinia petersiana, Cassia singueana and Dalbergia melanoxylon.  The latter with its striking black heart wood created such an effervescence of excitement in the writer that he immediately assumed that an attractive well weathered piece of driftwood, dark red at the tips, came from another Dalbergia, D. nitidula, which has an unusual purple heart wood.  He was quickly put right on this score, however, as the heartwood of the mopane, by which we were surrounded, is dark red to red brown. (Bottom of the class for this).

Just before embarking on our return journey we spent some time discussing the interesting properties and the history of a bush we seldom see from our Salisbury base,  Balanites aegyptiaca, the simple thorned ‘torchwood’, and in the course of the journey itself we paused at a large ant heap proudly flaunting Diospyros mespiliformis, Pappea capensis, Lobengula’s indaba tree, and Berchemia discolor, closely related to the pink or red ivory tree, Berchemia zeyheri.

The day passed all too quickly.  It was a wrench to leave, but we were rich in contentment.

Mr. and Mrs. Bowen detest over effusive ‘thank yous’ but I do not think they are in any doubt about our appreciation of the welcome we received, the spread, fit for royalty, which was laid before us on arrival, and of everything that was done to give us easy and enjoyable access to an area which, I know they cherish beyond measure.  Our gratitude spills over to the members of their family who travelled from Salisbury and from considerably further afield, to add their charm and help to our reception.

It was a pleasure also to have Mr. and Mrs. Bianchi and their daughters in our midst.  They were a source of generous help and inspiration from the outset.


The Bulawayo bulletin reads:

“Some magnificent Lannea stuhlmannii and huge Ficus retusa would on their own have made the visit to Government House grounds worthwhile.  With a bonus of fine weather and plenty of other trees of interest, the visit proved very interesting.

Next we go to the Waterford area where a reconnaissance has revealed over 60 varieties of trees, one new to us and some mysterious.  Meet on Sunday 2nd July at 0900 hours, not 0830 hours, you may be pleased to note, opposite the Rio Hotel on the Old Essexvale Road.

Our August visit should be of another part of Centenary Park where last year we spent a very enjoyable morning.”

Yours sincerely



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter August 8 1978

 Dear Member,

The visit to the Great Dyke was as worthwhile as ever.  On this occasion, though, we paid more attention than usual to small plants, outside our customary “tree” studies, and had a closer look at the sparse tree cover of the serpentine derived soil – which contrasts so dramatically with the profuse growth on adjacent granite and pyroxenite.  I gather from the map that the dolorite soils which also carry woodland or savanna occur on the Dyke in interrupted stretches south of Salisbury, and it seems to me worth recording for consideration by future committees, that expeditions along the Dyke towards the Ngesi Dam might be rewarding.

The morning was spent immediately to the east of the Dyke, on Rhimbick Farm.  Here, under the friendly and inspired guidance of our host, Mr. Cardwell, we were given an enlightening insight into Eucalyptus plantation operations, conducted principally for the supply of timber for mining purposes.  From 1200 acres, some 120 000 cu.ft. of timber in the ground is taken off annually.  In Mr. Cardwell’s opinion, 3 000 acres of plantation would be more appropriate to requirements, but even so the farm, extended by the acquisition of an adjoining area, plays a major role in the supply of mining timbers to three chrome mines, the Vanad, the Sutton and the Caesar.  Previously timbers were being brought in from as far afield as Matabeleland.  The principal Eucalypt species handled are E. grandis, E. paniculata and E. tereticornis.  A certain amount of firewood from off cuts etc. is available to neighbouring farms and Umvukwes village, and the farm also produces, seasonally, both vegetables and fruit.

From Rhimbick we moved up the Vanad Pass onto the serpentine soil which superficially seems so unimpressive, botanically.  It was here that, with the informed assistance of Dr. Colin Craig of the Department of Botany, University of Rhodesia, we spent a pleasant hour and a half examining plants which we so seldom take time off even to notice.  We recognized old friends such as Diplorhynchus condylocarpon, Acacia karroo, Euclea crispa, and Xerophyta, which still comes more easily to mind, to most of us, under its old name Vellozia, or “brooms and brushes” –all of which appear to be tolerant to, though stunted on, the toxic soils of the area.  Also within easy reach, but sparse, were Dombeya rotundifolia, Combretum molle, Schrebera alata, in markedly stunted form, and Clerodendrum myricoides.  In the Pavetta gardeniifolia, previously P. assimilis, the “spots” of nitrogen bacteria in the leaves seemed unusually pronounced.  Endemic species around us, included Aloe ortholopha, Euphorbia memoralis, Euphorbia wildii, Ozoroa longipetiolata and the small Rhus wildii to which Colin Craig drew particular attention.  These are all endemic to the Northern Dyke.  With Colin’s prompting, too,  we became far more aware of the wide incidence of Sutera fodina, a squat, white flowering shrub which was growing in small but abundant clumps, particularly where the soil had been disturbed through mining or other activity.  An interesting point mentioned was that the flower of S. fodina in the Ngesi area of the Dyke, is yellow.  It occurs only on the serpentine and so does Dicoma niccolifora, which was also shown to us, and Convolvulus ecellatus, with its long attractive leaf stems.

Also recorded were a ground hugging Baleria, B. aromatica, and an upright plant of the same family, ACANTHACEAE, with spiky leaves and spiky flower protecting bracts, Blepharis acuminata.  This latter plant occurs in Rhodesia only on the Northern Dyke, but it occurs outside Rhodesia as well.

We brought back a specimen of a charming little Helichrysum, which Dr. Craig thinks might be H. pachyrhizum.

Other small plants, for the record, were Goigeria trifolia, Lotenenis serpentinicola, Dyke endemic, Crotalaria virgulata, Niderella residifolia, of which this subspecies, serpentinicola is also Dyke endemic, and a Gnidoa sp. endemic to the Northern Dyke.

On the journey home in the afternoon, travelling south from Mtoroshanga to the main Banket Salisbury road, another Dyke endemic species was shown to us, Pearsonia metallifera, with attractive papilionaceous flower.

We lunched surrounded by a generous collection of granite soil vegetation, on Eastwick Park Farm, with the kind permission of African Chrome Mines Ltd., with time only to enjoy the proximity of species such as Brachystegia glaucescens, B. boehmii, Julbernardia globiflora, Pericopsis angolensis, Monotes engleri, Strychnos innocua, Margaritaria discoideus, formerly Phyllanthus discoideus, and Pterocarpus angolensis.  The earlier stages of the return journey were marked by the frequency with which we saw Ozoroa longipetiolata, Albizia antunesiana and Securidaca longipedunculata.  The riverine belts we passed, heralded their presence in every case with the lovely palm, Phoenix reclinata.

Our thanks to Mr. Caldwell and to Dr. Craig for their notable contributions to the day’s enjoyment, and also to Mr.N. M. Airey for the groundwork for the outing.

It was pleasant to have several guests with us, including Mr. Wallace, representing the Chamber of Mines and Mrs. Wallace; and a valued ex member of the Society Mrs. M. Cartwright.  Our Ayrshire colleagues rallied around as they invariably do when we head for the Dyke and it was good to see them.

As was the case when we visited Eyre’s pass some time ago, Mr. Newby Tatham, in his unobtrusive way, played an invaluable part in the local arrangements.  We are indebted to him.


Herewith Bulawayo’s bulletin from Mr. A. G. Dry :

“Our outing to Waterford proved so successful, despite Arctic conditions that we plan to return there later this year.  Among the rarer, for this area, finds were Erythroxylum emarginatum, Boscia angustifolia, Ochna inermis, Steganotaenia araliacea and Markhamia acuminata.  We hope also to be able to sort out Fagara capensis and Fagara chalybea.

In the meantime, our next outing is to Centenary Park to look at the half we did not see last year.  Mr. Bob Hardman has once again shared his fund of knowledge of these trees with committee members and we thank him for his time and patience.  We meet at 0900 hours in the Selborne Avenue parking bay opposite the fountain on Sunday 6th August.

The September outing is planned for the Matopos, probably the Maleme Rest Camp area.  That should be a good place in which to welcome spring, assuming it does arrive, which at the time of writing seems unlikely.”

Yours sincerely,



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 9 September 1978

 Dear Member,

Due to Police Reserve duties, Dr. M. Jarvis could not join us during the early part of Sunday, 20th August, when we visited the new bird sanctuary at Lake McIlwaine.  However, we had his permission to make ourselves at home, and we did just that.  The area is well endowed with large termite mounds and the variety of plants which are a feature of termite mounds in Rhodesia kept us enthralled for hours.

It was particularly pleasing to find many plants, both on the anthills and in the surrounds, which have fruit or flowers attractive to birds.  They included Ximenia americana, Boscia salicifolia, Schotia brachypetala, Securinnega virosa, Ficus burkei and Ficus capensis, Ziziphus mucronata, Dovyalis zeyheri, Pavetta assimilis and Pavetta schumanniana, Clerodendrum glabrum, Diosprios lycioides and Pappea capensis.  The Eucleas, Cassines, Grewias and Rhuses were all represented by two or three different species, the latter including a pair of fine specimens of Rhus quartiniana on the water’s edge.  Gardenia spathulifolia and G. jovis tonantis, Parinari curatellifolia, Vangueria infausta, V. randii, Vangueriopsis lanciflora, Vitex payos and Syzygium guineense, the water berry, all edible fruit bearing trees, were also there.  Strychnos potatorum, the fruit of which nothing seems to eat, was plentiful on the termite mounds, and so was Capparis tomentosa.  The fruit of this is poisonous according to Grainger, and also according to Patrick, one of Dr. Jarvis’s uniformed attendants who proved to be knowledgeable, and most interesting on the subject of traditional medicinal uses of plants.  It seems strange that Capers are made from the flower buds of another species of Capperis.  Strychnos cocculoides with its edible hard shelled fruit was seen quite frequently and S. spinosa was observed on the access road.

The msasas were in several shades of spring foliage and the slender Faurea salignas were also colourful and graceful.  Another very attractive tree was Schrebera alata and those in flower were Combretum collinum and Dombeya rotundifolia. The yellow green of Ochna pulchra was much in evidence, and that of Monotes glaber were also there.  Albizia antunesiana was in leaf and Albizia amara in pod.  Fruiting copiously were Peltophorum africanum, Pterocarpus angolensis, Burkea africana, Swartzia madagascariensis, snake bean tree and Securidaca longepedunculata, violet tree.  Canthium huillense and C. lactescens occurred fairly frequently.  Two plants which had us guessing were later identified by Mr. Drummond at the Herbarium as Maerua triphylla var. pubescens and Maerua juncea.  The former misbehaved itself behaving a four inch diameter trunk, which in that species, is not considered fair play by Tree Society members in Mashonaland.  The latter is a shrub or climber which, when not in flower, delights in preserving its anonymity by flaunting either trifoliate or simple leaves without regard to botanical ethics, if there are such things.

Dr. Jarvis joined us during the lunch break, and it was a pleasant surprise to be able to welcome also Mr. Peter Brookes Ball, National Chairman of the Wild Life Society and Mrs. Brookes Ball.

Part of the day was spent at the feeding site on the lake shore, where a considerable number of waterfowl foregathered for our edification, and for the final hour we moved to the National Parks Research Station where Dr Jarvis described the nature of the research which was being carried out.  We embarked on the return journey after a pleasant reconnoiter of the site; an interesting amalgam of kopjes and trees, bird enclosures and fish ponds.  The sincerity and informality of Dr. Jarvis’s welcome and the time devoted to us by him and by Patrick were greatly appreciated.  We enjoyed the day immensely.

The journey home was enlivened by the sight, and fairly close scrutiny, of an exceptionally large Acacia schweinfurthii, pointed out by Mr. Douglas Irvine.


The August visit to Centenary Park was a pleasant one, and certainly one of the best attended this year.  Of special interest were the flourishing carob trees, the nuts lying thick under the pecan nut tree, and the curious Dragon’s Blood tree.

The next visit is further afield, to the Matopos, to explore an area near the Police camp.  Please meet at Retreat at 0830 hours on Sunday 3rd September.

A visit to Whitestones School is planned for 1st October.

Yours sincerely,



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 10 October 1978

 Dear Member,

The Hallam Dam visit was notable for the number of trees in flower.  They included Dalbergia nitidula, Boscia salicifolia, Turraea nilotica, Mundulea sericea, Rothmannia fischeri, Dovyalis zeyheri, both male and female trees, Schotia brachypetala, Syzygium cordatum, Lannea discolor, Lannea edulis, the small perennial, Ekebergia benguelensis, Lopholaena coriifolia, Gardenia spathulifolia, a particularly attractive Combretum which we thought was C. collinum, although I rather think we did not give this the study it deserved, and Ochna pulchra, so much in swelling bud and early flower that it was breathtaking.  The flowers of Dombeya rotundifolia were past their prime, but still massed for effect.  Erythrina abyssinica was in brilliant red, contrasting with the quiet glory of the delicately scented msasas, Brachystegia spiciformis. Nothing more was really needed for an enjoyable day.  Yet there was more.  Cassias lent their splash of yellow to almost every knoll.  Dozens of Monotes glaber trees were in new translucent leaf.  Rhus quartiniana with Syzygium graced the river bank.  Croton gratissimus occurred with some frequency; we seldom see it in such numbers.  A tall, graceful Olea africana was one of the first finds of the day.  Less usual, on our Mashonaland expeditions, was Fagara capensis, now I understand, called Zanthoxylum capense.  Garcinia huillensis, Pittosporum viridiflorum and Euclea natalensis were all in fine trim. The mukwa, Pterocarpus angolensis, the corky barked monkey orange Strychnos cocculoides, the snake bean tree, Swartzia madagascariensis, the large podded Combretum zeyheri, Ficus burkei and a big rambling Acacia schweinfurthii, were all in fruit.  About 80 species were recorded in all.

The City Engineers Department extended every facility to us.  We received the most cordial encouragement from Headquarters in the person of Mr. C. Whitelock Jones and from Mr. Norris and Mr. Wilmot in their supervisory and caretaker capacities at the Dam.

As a change from our usual procedure we had a talk from Mrs. Gill Masterson at the outset on ten of the more interesting species we were about to see.  At each of these trees or shrubs, some of the salient characteristics of the species or the genus or the family were repeated.  It was a worthwhile experiment, which I believe we should pursue, and we are fortunate in having access to Gill’s tremendous fund of knowledge and gift of description.

Sunday October 15thBinga Swamp Forest, Arcturus.  After a great deal of study, discussion and correspondence, in which Mr. Tselentis, the owner, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Conservation and Extension, and the Arcturus Rural Council, and ICA have all been involved, a large section of the vlei land and sponge leading down to the forest has been fenced off.  This  is an administrative arrangement; in other words the area which is legally protected under the Natural Resources Act has not been increased but, with the NRB paying for the additional fencing, the owner has agreed to keep his cattle out of the enlarged area, other than at such times as Conex recommend periods of winter grazing.  It is hoped in this way to improve the grazing in the long term, to protect the area from further damage, to allow the erosion to heal and the water table to re-establish itself in the swamp area.

Work has been continuing on the eradication of alien vegetation.  Mr. and Mrs. Stan Carey have ring barked more cedrelas and syringas and have “pulled” or supervised the pulling of some 25 000 seedlings of Mauritius Thorn – a truly herculean effort spread of several weeks.  The writer has continued his campaign against the few remaining thorn clumps of any size; and, in the background, ready to come to our assistance as they have done with dramatic results in the past, is the Weed Research Unit of Henderson Research Station.

With these additional protective arrangements, it becomes worthwhile to begin moderate tree planting in the area which was burnt in 1974 and in the over grazed area.  While this presents certain problems it is hoped to put a programme in hand this season, unless expert advice counsels against it.

An awful lot of time and effort has gone into all this, and it is heartening to have seen the persistent and co-operative action of all concerned.  At almost every step, the Tree Society’s interest in the forest was taken into account and the Chairman was invited, on occasions, to participate in the proceedings.

MATABELELAND BRANCH   Mr. Dry’s bulletin :

“Our return to the Matopos on our last outing was thoroughly worthwhile and we all enjoyed ourselves among the 72 species of tree we identified in a small area.  As a bonus, we were able, over lunch, to watch two black eagles on a ledge high above us feeding their raucous chick.

On Sunday 1 October we go out to Whitestone School.  What should please is not so much species new to us as trees in very good condition; some Eucleas in particular really look like trees.  We should also have some useful detective work to decide on whether a Dovyalis there is caffra or zeyheri.  Meet at the entrance to Whitestone School at 0830 on Sunday 1st October.

Our November outing is likely to be to Good Hope Farm.

We have recently started our own version of Salisbury’s Makabusi Woodland Walks.  At 1715 hours on alternate Wednesdays we stroll about the Hillside Dam area, starting at the Aloe Garden Car Park.  In this way novices can learn painlessly and the more knowledgeable can see the seasonal changes taking place in trees.  In October we walk of the 4th and 18th, in November on the 1st, 15th and 19th.   All are welcome to join us.”


Some months ago the Committee co-opted Miss July Ryan for the express purpose of encouraging younger members to take an active interest in the administrative affairs of the Society.  Other members, not necessarily all as young as Judy, would be very welcome on the committee.  Indeed, several of us among the older hands on the present committee are unlikely to stand for re-election, and it would be wise to gear ourselves for changes now rather than be faced with confusion at the next AGM.  If you are willing to accept nomination at AGM or if you have anybody in mind in whom you have confidence and to whom you feel we might make an approach to ascertain degree of interest and willingness to serve, would you mind filling in, and posting, the appended slip.  Alternatively, give me a ring.


Aloe, Cactus and Succulent Society of Rhodesia is offering further supplies of Palgrave’s “Trees of Southern Africa” at $14.50 per copy.  Applications to that Society.

Yours sincerely,



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 11 November 1978

 Dear Member,

Last month’s letter included a summary of recent developments at Binga Swamp Forest, Arcturus.  The party of 24 who visited the forest on Sunday 15th October were, I think, heartened by the accessibility of areas which, a few years ago, were surrounded or covered by Mauritius Thorn, and heartened also by the extremely promising regeneration of many of the swamp forest trees, now that they are protected more effectively from cattle.  The extent of the new protective fencing came as a surprise to many.  There is little doubt that gully erosion will take a long time to heal and that many years of continued effort remain before we can “let up” on the constant removal of alien plants.  This is worthwhile as long as one can see signs of progress.  At long last, these signs are there; and a very welcome guest at the meeting was Mr. Paul Richards who has helped us so much to control the thorn.

As many members already know, the most notable trees and other plants in the area are the big specimens of Ilex mitis, Syzygium cordatum, Acacia sieberiana, Celtis africana, Ficus capensis, Rauvolfia caffra and Erythrina abyssinica, and the smaller but no less decorative Catha edulis, Rhamnus prinoides, Bequaertiodendron magalismontanum, Myrica serrata, Euclea crispa, Maesa lanceolata, Rhus longipes and Diospyros lycioides. The latter were in flower in some parts, and the Maesa and the Rhus in fruit.  One big Erythrina was in pod, not yet mature.  The figs were almost over.  Also over, unfortunately, was the flowering of the hundreds of Vernonia which, a few weeks ago, were most attractive, as were the Rauvolfia even more recently.

A notable find, for the first time, as far as I know, was Mussaenda arcuata, in fruit.  This did not receive the excited vocal publicity it might have got if I had had the remotest idea of what it was.  Unfortunately, our more knowledgeable members were not on the spot at the time.  However, a specimen went into the bag for Mr. Drummond’s attention, which accounts for the impressive air of confidence with which I can now reveal its identity.  Members who regularly attend the monthly Botanic Garden expeditions will have tasted the fruit of the big Mussaenda bush to the north of the Herbarium.

Throughout the day, and particularly in the afternoon when we made a conscious effort to stem our chatter during a short “bird walk” we had the great pleasure of Dr. Ken Davey’s observations on the bird life around us.  Ken has kindly given me the following note :

“Here with a list of some of the more interesting birds seen or heard calling : Black Collared Barbet; Bar Throated Apalis; Green Pigeon; Orange Throated Longclaw;  Broad Billed Roller; White Browed Robin Chat; Bou Bou Shrike; Purple Crested Loerie; Crested Barbet; Hamerkop; Red Chested Cuckoo; Emerald Spotted Wood Dove.”

The day’s activities were spiced with further variety on the part of a group of young members and friends, comprising Judy Ryal, Phil and Cheryl Haxen, Beryl Wood and Charles Parry.  It was difficult to tell which of their wide interests were paramount.   It was evident though, that all shared Mr. Parry’s delight in finding a species of frog.  At no time, while we watched, did it turn into a princess, so I invited Charles to let us know what the attraction was about that particular species.  This is what he wrote: “I must confess that my prime motive for attending this trip was to look for a particular frog, and to my delight, I found it.  The frog in question is the Striped Rana, Rana fasciata.  This is a grass frog commonly found in Inyanga, but had been collected by Dr. Broadley in Selukwe some years ago.  I have found it in Salisbury, after another collector found some on the same river system, but our records were questioned on the grounds of there being a University here, so it may have been released, which is a convenient way of getting round something that does not fit your theory!  However, I collected this frog in Dichwe Lemon Forest, beyond Sinoia early in 1977.  So finding it in this small patch of forest indicates that it probable extends in range, down the Highveld, hidden in small forests similar to the Binga Forest.  This is a classic case of being able to find something once one knows the type of habitat in which to look.  My thanks to the other members of our party for their efforts in froggying which resulted in a further three species being caught.  My thanks also to the members of the society for so enthusiastically tolerating my downcast approach while theirs was directed upwards on a higher vein.”


The following extract from the minutes of our Committee meeting on 10th October, is self explanatory: ”As regards the spate of letters in the Press on this subject, it was reported that the Makabusi Woodlands and the Cleveland Dam were among the many areas which were being raided.  It was, in the Chairman’s opinion, a moot point whether continued publicity served a useful purpose.  Admittedly, it helped to arouse public consciousness of the danger, but unless the authorities took a lead, the public could do little more than wring their hands in dismay, while the pinpointing, in the Press, of inadequately policed areas merely encouraged tree cutters in their activities.

Members might understandably expect the Society to feature in the public outcry in the newspapers but, rightly or wrongly, the present policy was to tackle authorities such as the Municipality, the NRB and National Parks direct, without any blare of publicity.  This was continuing ……….  In addition there might be a possibility of having the matter mentioned in “Cabbages and Kings” in conjunction with the publicity which is being sought for the Green Park visit in November.”

On the subject of woodcutting our campaign with the City of Salisbury was reported in some detail in my Annual Report for the year 1976.  We were dismally unsuccessful in arousing any spark of constructive concern, and turned to the NRB.  They, we were glad to learn, were pressing local authorities in general, and not only the Salisbury City Council to give attention to the problem. However, my contention has been that quite apart from the need to plant eucalypts for future use, it is vitally necessary to make alternative fuels and equipment, immediately and cheaply available to the hundreds of thousands clustering around our main centers.  To this end, subsidization of some sort seems essential.  The alternative is a national calamity.

This pill has not yet been swallowed by the NRB and I don’t know whether it will be.  I am aware of the complications that can arise from subsidies, but I see no speedy alternative.  One of the dangers of subsidy, I confess, would be that even if there were to be a large scale adjustment in wage structure, the withdrawal of the subsidy would probably be bitterly contested.

My Annual Report for 1977 again reported on the matter, and was followed, in the Herald of Friday, 24th February, 1978 by a 2 column letter from the Society to the Editor which was accorded inch deep headlines reading “DECIMATION OF TIMBER IS FRIGHTENING”.  One gentleman was kind enough to write to me as a result and he stated with bitterness that he had been campaigning on this subject in various spheres for 30 years and was simply regarded as a crank.

Our correspondence with the department of Natural Resources has become rather acid in tone in the last few months, prior to all the recent newspaper correspondence, but I was invited a couple of weeks ago, to arrange for an appointment with the Chairman of the NRB.  A forceful but cordial discussion has taken place, and a delegation from the Committee of this Society is to be given an opportunity to meet a number of Board members for further discussion.

There is obviously no miraculous answer to the problem but we cannot pretend it is not there; and the purpose of this summary is to assure members that they belong to a Society which has not been inactive in seeking partial solutions at least.  Suggestions from members would naturally be welcomed.


The news from Alex Dry is as follows :  “Our last outing, to Whitestone School, was remarkable for two reasons; we invented a new proverb, ‘one seed does not make a mukwa’ and we saw a most extra ordinary Acacia robusta.  The robusta part of the name was apt because not only was it a very handsome tree of some 12 meters in height, but in it were growing no fewer than three different trees, each about 30cm in height, a Cussonia natalensis, a  Securinega virosa and a fig of indeterminate parentage.  We guessed that the deep fissures in the bark of the Acacia and perhaps some shelter from the prevailing wind could account for the rich variety of guests the tree was harbouring.  Whatever the explanation, the three babies looked very healthy.

We planned to go to Hope Farm for our next outing but have had to change that.  Instead, we meet once again at the Upper Hillside dam, approaching from Sable Road.  Ann Bean’s card index files have been kindly lent to us and we should have fun identifying trees with their help.  Bring along also your Coates Palgrave for the same purpose.

See you there at 0830 hours on Sunday November 5th.


Two greatly valued friends have been lost to us in the past month. Mashonaland members of longstanding will know of the constant support we have received for years, from the late Alderman W. Steer and the late J.H.C. Clive Liddle.  On behalf of all members I extend to their families our sincere condolences.

Yours sincerely,




Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter 12 December 1978

 Dear Member,

Presumably there were twelve months this year.  I am not sure where they have gone, but the calendar says it is, indisputably, December, and as it’s the last December before I relinquish the chair, I hope you will forgive me for invading your post box so early with Christmas greetings from my wife and myself.  Our good wishes are all the more sincere, if there are such things as degrees of sincerity, because the support, the occasional encouraging note and, in many cases, the friendships of members, has given so enjoyable a flavor to everything touching upon Tree Society affairs.

That little gem of riverine forest on Mr. David Pilbrough’s place at Christon Bank fulfilled all expectations. Our only regret, on the occasion of our November visit, was that Mr. and Mrs. Pilbrough were not able to join us as they had hoped to do.  Their welcome during the earlier “recce” made it all the more disappointing that other members were denied the pleasure of meeting them.  Needless to say the Society’s thanks have been conveyed to them, and we wish Dave a speedy recovery from his illness.

The hills on either side of the valley in which the small forest nestles, slope quietly down to a much eroded path which carries a great deal of pedestrian traffic.  At the lower levels, and before the valley broadens out, the slopes steepen, and the forest emerges from the narrow gulley so formed.  A small stream rising there from, nourishes a group of Ilex mitis trees to provide a top canopy with Rauvolfia caffra and some exceptionally fine specimens of Celtis africana.  A single Mimusops zeyheri is protected by a sizeable bush of scrambling, prickly Pterolobium stellatum.  It was a pleasure to find Ekebergia capensis again.  We see it all too seldom.  Syzygium cordatum, with unusually narrow leaves, Rhamnus prinoides and Bequaertiodendron magalismontanum seemed perfectly happy with wet feet.  The dark green of the Syzygium, the sparkle of the Rhamnus, the variegated shades of the Ilex and the contrasting sheen and matt surfaces of the Bequaertiodendron leaves, all mingled to produce a remarkably study in colour tone.  The sun, filtering through the Celtis leaves high above, emphasized their delicacy, and added a hint of splendor to poetry and to grace.  The ground cover was made up, in places, of a charming pattern of ferns and bracken and Desmodium.  The forest grass, probably one of the Oplismenus species, was sparse, but completely in harmony with its surrounds.

A big liane, with reticulate bark, a stem of 60 mm size.  A hibiscus like shrub turned out to be one of the Abutilon species, of the same family as the Hibiscus.

In her usual, quiet, clear thinking and methodical way Mrs. Gill Masterson introduced us to a few of the forest species at the outset, and reminded us of some of the botanical family relationships to which we so seldom give sufficient thought. Mr. Trevor Gordon has also tried a little kindly, gentle persuasion on this issue in the past and with the happy prospect of passing the baby with alacrity on to my successor, I heartily recommend that we make this a positive project for next year.

We had the added pleasure of the company of Denzil and Dorothy Carr, who are among the most prominent of our South African members.  I dare not call them distinguished, though they are, because they will get mad at me.  Denzil’s current project, following the completion of his widely known Acacia book, it that of writing up Combretums, and when he was not leaping out of the bus, aided and abetted by Douglas Irvine, to examine and photograph Combretum fragrans, he gave us the benefit of his shrewd observations on a variety of trees.  The significance of the specific name, magalismontanum was brought into proper focus by his comment that in the Transvaal he was accustomed to seeing Bequaertiodendron on hillsides rather more frequently than in the emphatically riverine environment with which we tend to associate it here – although we have seen it on occasions, on granite kopjes.  Van Wyk’s “Trees of the Kruger National Park” confirms that the word is derived directly from the Magaliesberg.

It was particular interesting to hear the same remarks applied to Mimusops zeyheri, which I would never have pictured away from a river or an evergreen forest.  As regards both species, I understood Denzil to say that on the hilly slopes they probably favour ravine formations so it would seem that they like the best of both worlds – montane, with semi-riverine conditions.

Species occurring both in the valley and on the slopes of the hills to which we afterwards moved, were Ficus capensis, Rhus longipes, Acacia sieberiana, A. macrothysa, Allophylus africana, Cassia abbreviata, C. singueana, Combretum molle, Cussonia arborea, Erythrina abyssinica, Euclea natalensis, Flacourtia indica.  Vernonia amygdalina, Parinari curatellifolia, Pittosporum viridiflorum, Syzygium guineense, Ziziphus mucronata, Lannea discolor and Ozoroa reticulata.  The smaller plants included Indigofera rhynchocarpa in flower, quite a number of ‘makoni tea’ bushes, Fadogia ancylantha, some handsome mauve ground orchids, of which there seemed to be two kinds, two species of Thunbergia, at least two of Asparagus, and a lot of the dwarf Lannea edulis.  A list of additional species seen on the hillside is given below, but special mention should be made of Diospyros kirkii, some in fruit, and some in flower.   The latter were most puzzling, with groups of axillary, velvety, khaki coloured flowers below young, almost yellow green leaves.  This was one of the species, in the flowering stage, on which Mr. Drummond’s verdict was subsequently sought.  Other hillside species were – Uapaca kirkiana, the mahobohoba, in fruit, Vangueria infausta, Vangueriopsis lanciflora, Terminalia stenostachya, possibly, but not convincingly in the absence of pods, Terminalia mollis, Strychnos spinosa, S. innocua, Julbernardia globillora, Brachystegia spiciformis, B. boehmii and B. glaucescens, Albizia antunesiana, Bridelia cathartica, Dichrostachys cinerea, Acacia karroo in flower, A. polyacantha, Diplorhynchus condylocarpon, Dombeya rotundifolia, Hexalobus monopetalus, Maytenus senegalensis, Ochna schweinfurthiana, Pavetta schumanniana, Piliostigma thonningii and Psorospermum febrifugum, the Rhodesian holly, in flower and fruit in anticipation of Christmas.  We saw solitary specimens of white Bauhinia, B. petersiana, the violet tree Securidaca longepedunculata, the pink jacaranda, Stereospermum kunthianum and Ochna puberula.  Steganotaenia araliaceae, one of the ‘popgun’ trees occurred, but was not anything like as big as those we stopped to look at on the way from town.  Pleurostylia africana and Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia, the duiker or kudu berry, were not uncommon. Protea angolensis appeared here and there.  Faurea speciosa was widespread. A good sized Ficus sycomorus was seen on a previous visit, and confirmed.

This represented, all in all, quite a wide ranging selection, incorporating not only typical msasa woodland and highveld riverine species, but also one or two species hinting at the intrusion of vegetation more at home in the lower reaches of the Mazoe Valley – e.g. Stereospermum kunthianum and Bauhinia petersiana.

 It is with reluctance that I record the frivolous attitude of some members towards my best endeavours to prove the existence of Garcinia huillense in the area.  True, the first specimen turned out to be Syzygium guineense and the second a fruiting Diospyros lycioides, but I was grieved at the impolite reception of my theory that both had been transplanted as adult trees by Mr. Pilbrough since my recce the previous month.

Reverting to Mr. Carr’s work on the genus Combretum, I believe the pods of Combretum fragrans are proving particularly elusive this year.  Mr. Carr has not requested mention of the subject in this bulletin, but any news of fruits of C. fragrans, mature or reaching maturity, would probably be appreciated.  A note to this address or to Mr. D. Irvine, Box 377, Salisbury, would be followed up.


Mr. Dry states that the final outing in 1978 takes place on Sunday 3rd December, and takes the form of further explorations of the Waterford area.  Please meet at 0830 hours opposite the Hotel Riol.

DEPARTURE OF MR. AND MR. N.M. AIREY   –  Dix and Audrey are moving to join members of their family in South Africa.  We shall miss them, but glean some comfort from the fact that we shall have such wonderful ambassadors in Natal.  Dix has served for several years on the Committee, and was our President in 1975.  Since then we have regarded him as our unofficial PRO and his enthusiasm, his old world courtliness and his wide popularity, have brought us a lot of members and done a lot for our image.  Thanks, Dix, and thank you Audrey, for your unobtrusive but none the less invaluable backing, encouragement and support.  You leave with the very best wishes of the Society.


This magnificent record of the epiphytic orchids found South of the Zambezi and Cunene Rivers contains 104 plates in full colour, distribution maps, identification keys and full notes on the orchids.

The book is available on order from the National Hon. Secretary, The Aloe Cactus and Succulent Society, P.O. Box 8514, Causeway.  The cost is $40 including sales tax, postage free.

Yours sincerely,