The following is a summary of the news, events and happenings of the Tree Society of Rhodesia from the records we have available for 1979


Tree Society of Rhodesia  Newsletter January 1979

Dear Member,

You are being spared my customary arboreal ramblings this month, partly because we had no December outing from Salisbury, and partly because you will find enclosed, ample reading matter in the form of the minutes of the last AGM.  Enthralling stuff!!

The next AGM takes place on 6th February 1979.  Please see the notice of the meeting overleaf.  This is an important meeting, with the prospect of some new office bearers, please do not hesitate to send in nominations, and a Guest Speaker whose knowledge of Chirinda Forest is unsurpassed.  Mr. Goldsmith was in charge of Gungunyana Forest Reserve, of which Chirinda Forest is part, for fourteen years, and on the subject of the historical background, the trees, the mammals and everything else associated with the Forest, is an experience not to be missed.

Incidentally, if any member wishes to move a resolution to amend the Constitution of the Society, he or she must, in accordance with the Constitution, “submit such resolution in writing, duly seconded by another member, to the Secretary not less than 21 days before the Annual General Meeting”.

Tuesday February 6th :  2000 hours at Queen Victoria Museum Auditorium : AGM : Guest Speaker Mr. B. Goldsmith on the subject of Chirinda.


Congratulations to Miss Janet Webber on her re-election to the Chair of the Matabeleland Branch for 1979.  Full details of office bearers are not yet to hand, but with Mr. Alec Dry’s transfer to Salisbury, where he will be very welcome, Mrs D. Webb has accepted responsibility for the monthly Matabeleland bulletin.

From Mrs. Webb, the following notes have been received :

“Our December meeting was held once again at Waterford, when we studied the trees on an ironstone kopje, of which there are several in the area.  The “field” part of the outing was curtailed to enable the members to gather at Dora Webb’s home for the Annual General Meeting.  After the formal part of the meeting a book token was presented to Alec Dry, who has been transferred to Salisbury, much to the regret of members of this branch.  We wish him and Sally many happy years in their new home.

Our next meeting, on January 7th will be at Hillside Dams.  Meet at the Upper Dam, Sable Road, at 0830 hours.”

Good wishes to you all for the New Year

Yours sincerely



NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the 29th Annual General Meeting of the Tree Society of Rhodesia will

Be held on Tuesday 6th February, 1979, at 2000 hours in the Auditorium of the Queen Victoria Museum, Salisbury


  1. Reading of Notice convening the meeting
  2. Apologies for absence
  3. Adoption of the Minutes of the last AGM
  4. Matters arising from the minutes
  5. President’s Report
  6. Treasurer’s Report
  7. Election of Officers
  8. Any other business.


Talk by Mr. B. Goldsmith of the Rhodesia Forestry Commission on “Chirinda”.



The Chair was taken by the President Mr. R. W. Petheram, who declared the meeting open and welcomed the 35 members present.

The President asked members to stand in silence for a few moments as a mark of respect to members who had died during the year and to members of the security forces who had given their lives defending this country so that we might continue to enjoy visits into the Rhodesian countryside.

The Notice convening the meeting was read by the Vice President, Mrs. L. Irvine, in the absence of the Secretary.


These, having been circulated with the January 1978 newsletter, were taken as read and unanimously adopted on a proposal by Mr. A. Pearce, seconded by Mr. G. R. Hall.


Natural History Radio/TV Programmes :  In view of the feelings expressed that sufficient emphasis had not been given to trees in these conservation programmes, an approach had been made to RBCTV suggesting a camera team be sent to Audley End Farm to show well managed indigenous woodland in conjunction with well managed tobacco farming.  These progammes are prepared in liaison with the Natural Resources Board and the full “Hope” Series had already been planned and finalized before they received our suggestion.  However, a further series is being considered and trees could be included therein.


This was well received and adopted.  Proposed Mr.J. Talbot, seconded Mr. D. Irvine.  See addendum to March 1978 Newsletter.


On a proposal by Mr. J. Talbot, seconded by Miss L. Phillips, the financial statement was adopted without debate.

The Chairman then reverted to the subject of the Makabusi Woodland project.  He stated that the outgoing committee was confident that $250 could safely be spared for the project from the Society’s existing reserves, and this amount had accordingly been pledged.  However, this compared very unfavourably with substantial sums which were being reserved for the purpose by the Wild Life Society and the Ornithological Society, and while there was no intention of trying to compete, it would not be unreasonable for the Society to aim at least at doubling the $250.    About $13 000 was needed for initial building development, and $3 000 of this was coming from the Conservation Trust.  This did not so far include any specific structure as a memorial to the late Douglas Aylen.


President                            Mr. R. W. Petheram

Vice President                   Mr. G. R. Hall

Secretary                             –

Treasurer                            Mrs. B. Tunney

Members                            Mrs. L. Irvine,  Mrs. S. Duncanson, Mrs. G. Masterson, Mr. A. Pearce, Mr. N. M. Airey

The Chairman explained that Mrs. Irvine had undertaken to relinquish the office of Vice President, which she had filled with distinction for two years, because she had no intention of accepting nomination as President now or in the future.  The Society was greatly in Mrs. Irvine’s debt for all she had done for the Society, and was very glad to retain her services on the Committee.  At the same time, the move made possible the nomination of Mr. G. R. Hall as Vice President, thus planning for the future when, hopefully, Mr. Hall’s military commitments would take up less of his time.

Addition planning along these lines was necessary.  Members had been urged by newsletter to submit nominations or suggestions but there had been no response.  The need remained and members were asked to keep it firmly in mind.

Mr. Petheram recorded the Committee’s sincere thanks to Mrs. Winkfield for her help with typing of letters, minutes, etc. following the resignation of the Secretary in the latter part of 1977.

There were no nominations for the office of “full time” Secretary, notwithstanding an assurance by Mrs. Irvine that much of the burden, particularly that of arranging for the stapling, address checking and dispatch of newsletters, and constant liaison with Science News, was shouldered by Mrs. Duncanson in addition to the normal calls of committee work.


Makabusi Woodland.  Mr. Irvine asked for further information on the Makabusi project.  Mr. Petheram explained that the plans were for the setting up of a Conservation Education Centre.  There would be provision for meetings under shelter and other facilities for lectures and study purposes, including probably storage and demonstration space for specimens of flora and fauna.  A caretaker would have to be employed, and ranger staff might be necessary.  The various affiliated societies would be expected to “man” the area at certain times.

Vote of Thanks :   Mr. Airey congratulated Mr. Petheram on his very successful year of office.

The Meeting closed at 2115 hours.

After the break for tea Professor Hiram Wild, Professor of Botany at the University of Rhodesia, gave a most interesting and enlightening talk and slide show on “The Distribution of Trees in Rhodesia”.


Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter February 1979

 Dear Member,

In a forward to The Rhodesia Science News, Volume 10, No. 2, February 1976, Chirinda Forest is described by Mr. P. F. Banks of the Forestry Commission as “the largest and one of the few remaining examples of moist evergreen forest in Rhodesia.  It’s flora and fauna are quite unique.  Amongst its many forest giants ‘The Big Tree’ Khaya nyasica, measuring some 65 meters in height and 4.5 meters in diameter, is the largest, in terms of volume, within the forest.”

It is on the subject of Chirinda that Mr. B. Goldsmith will be speaking to us at the AGM on the night of Tuesday 6th February, a fascinating subject, and a speaker whose knowledge of the forest is probably equaled only by his love for it.  As mentioned last month, it came within his “parish”, as Forester, Gungunyana Forest Reserve, for many years.

The bus originally allocated to us for our journey to Saffron Walden on Sunday 21st January has done sterling service on this continent since it was first commissioned by the 1820 Settlers, and it is still noisily efficient on downhill runs.  En route, it demonstrated its dislike for ascending gradients by overheating with Vesuvius like eruptions from the oil sump, and by “cutting out” once on the main road, and again within meters of the Saffron Walden gate.

It was a brilliant day, with the promise of afternoon rain, so we decided to make for the nearest kopje without more ado, while arrangements were made for a replacement bus for the return journey.

It is almost four years since last we visited Saffron Walden.  One felt great relief and thankfulness at finding how successfully Mr. Ross Hinde has managed to preserve the captivating mass of flora which adorns this superb range of kopjes and sets off the grandeur of the massive boulders.  Random impressions still vivid to the mind are – the delicate “drape” of heart-shaped leaves and pale mauve convolvulus like flowers with dark pink throat falling from a ledge of rock to screen the entrance to a small cave, the creeper was Ipomea verbascoidea; the imposing spread and striking pattern of a big paper bark Commiphora marlothii which was in command of a wide and deep crevice, and showed a versatility of growth form markedly different from its many upright, green-trunked companions; on so many of the granite kopjes we visit elsewhere, these sentinels of the crest would more commonly be “mountain acacias”, Brachystegia glaucescens; ,the abundance, vigor and size of the Maytenus undata; the perpetual appeal of the tiny-leafed “nummularia’, Diospyros natalensis subsp. nummularia, with its glossy greenness, perhaps a shade darker than that of the tall pod mahogany,  Afzelia quanzensis; the quiet grace of the Zanha africana; the grand expanse of bough and leaf in the Erythrinas, both E. abyssinica and E. latissima; the dappled shade of numerous Acacias, A. polyacantha and A. sieberiana, in full leaf on the level ground below the kopjes; the golden yellow of the flowering Acacia macrothyrsa; the sudden glow of red flame lilies emerging from the lattice work of green.

We did not see, on this occasion, the Nuxia congesta which was so memorably in flower on an adjoining kopje in May 1975; but on an afternoon stroll along the lower approaches we came again, upon the sausage tree, Kigelia africana, which to me is so unexpected at this altitude.

The mystery shrub seen in some profusion near the picnic site and on the first kopje we explored, has been identified at the Herbarium as Erythrococca trichogyne.  It is a member of the family EUPHORBIACEAE.  The fruit is described by Coates Palgrave as a ‘one to two lobed capsule… yellowish, splitting and falling away leaving 1 or 2 seeds remaining attached to the branch; each seed is completely covered with a bright orange-red to scarlet, fleshy aril so that the seeds strongly resemble two red berries”.  The shrub itself looked unremarkable, though puzzling; the ‘red berries’ quite transformed it.

Mr. Jack Reid who, in characteristically considerate fashion, kept an eye on all our picnic baskets and other possessions throughout the morning, pointed out, at lunch time, an extraordinary phenomenon, a small, struggling Turraea nilotica growing from the trunk of an Erythrina abyssinica.  Turraea, incidentally, was extraordinarily plentiful.  There was a big Ficus burkei at the picnic site, and a  big F. ingens at the top of the kopje.  Numerous Allophylus africana plants were infested with caterpillar.  Terminalia sericea probably outnumbered any other single species, and there were one or two other Terminalias which brought to mind the fact that after our last visit we were told that hybrid T. sericea x T. stenostachya were a possibility.  The “Rhodesian Holly”, Psorospermum febrifugum, was fairly widespread.  Along the verge of the farm road was a long line of purple Cleomes, Cleome hirta.  They looked so small and frail that it was surprising to learn, subsequently, that they grow to 1.5 meters.

Other trees and shrubs included Cassine aethiopica and C. matabelica, Commiphora africana, Erythroxylum emarginatum, Euphorbia ingens and E. matabelensis, Garcinia huillensis, Rothmannia fischeri, Securidaca longepedunculata and Rhus leptodictya.  Many of the remainder were fairly typical msasa woodland species, although Brachystegia spiciformis itself seemed scarce.

There were, in all, more than 80 trees, shrubs and creepers.

During the lunch break we were joined by Mrs. Julienne Rushworth and her daughters, Patricia and Sally, a visit which made the day all the more enjoyable.  We had hoped that Mr. Dave Rushworth could accompany us on our explorations so that we could benefit from his stimulating approach to plant life and ecology in general, but the Army had other things lined up for him.  It was Julienne who placed the phone of her home at our disposal in the morning, for the sorting out of our transport problem.  She has our gratitude.

I have written to Mr. Hinde to say how much we appreciate his unfailing kindness to us, which goes back for several years, and how much we admire his outstanding record of conservation.  He and his family were away on the 21st.


These have a regrettable habit of becoming due from time to time.  They are due now.  The single subscription if $3 and that for family members $4.  If you would be good enough to send your remittance along without awaiting an account, this would be appreciated, as it would lighten the Hon. Treasurer’s burden a little, and make possible small economies on account forms and postage.  If you don’t respond to this request it will be assumed that you prefer to receive an account, and one will be sent.


The following bulletin has been received from Mrs. Webb.  Will you please note the 2-month programme in this and in future bulletins, in case any newsletter is late.

A successful and enjoyable outing was held at the Upper Hillside Dam on Sunday, 7th January.  Our objective was the comparatively undisturbed bush on the south side of the Upper Dam, but we took some time to reach there because there were so many distractions on the way.  We saw between sixty and seventy different varieties, those worthy of special mention being Dovyalis zeyheri, Lannea stuhlmannii and a fine specimen of Acokanthera schimperi”.

 Our February outing, on the 4th, will be to Mr. Harmer’s home, where we shall see, and hear about, his Pecan Nut trees.  Meet at the Rio Hotel, Essexvale Road, at 0830 hours.

On 4th March we shall be visiting Mr. and Mrs. Lorber’s home in Baron Close, Burnside, where Mrs. Lorber has had considerable success in propagating indigenous trees.  Meet at the Napier Avenue/Hillside Road intersection at 0830 hours.

The Wednesday afternoon outings will be held at 1715 hours on every second and fourth Wednesday.  The meeting place will in future be the Upper Hillside Dam, Sable Road, and not the Aloe Garden as formerly.”

The Annual Report of the Chairman of the Matabeleland Branch  is included with this letter.


During the past year we regretfully lost two inaugural members by the departure of Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Bullock to their home at Melsetter.  When you consider their wide knowledge of natural vegetation and the practical expression of it in their interesting garden lay out it is obvious that we are very much poorer by their going from Bulawayo.  Mrs. Bullock had served the Branch as Secretary for some years and was very good at disseminating information on outings.  We are at this time also bemoaning the imminent departure of Mr. Alec Dry, our honorary secretary to Salisbury.  This will be a great loss to the Branch.  More will be said about this later on in the meeting.  Otherwise, our membership is fairly static as regards numbers, but it is growing in interest and I wish to thank members for this trend.

A resume of our field meetings now follows: early in the year we made two visits to the granite area on the southern fringe of Bulawayo and on the second of these visits Mr. Mike Gardner came with us to indicate the relationship of moth and butterfly types with the vegetation.  In April we went to east of Bulawayo city boundary not far from a gold mine and with tables set up in the shade we practiced determinations of specimens using classification keys.  Mr. Jameson of Criterion Farm kindly allowed us to go onto his farm which is a high point and watershed for tributaries of the great rivers to the North and South of Rhodesia.  The farm has some early gold mine workings, and the Waterworks are adjacent.

We were privileged to go into the grounds of Government House, where there are magnificent introduced trees and a great variety in the veld beyond.  At Waterford on the ironstone ridges we found some interesting trees and we have planned a return visit there.  Our field cards will no doubt one day throw up some interesting facts about occurrence of certain tree types with soils.  August is the month when Matabeleland is looking very dry and wintry and our visit to Centenary Park we saw such interesting trees as Ceratonia siliqua, Carya pecan etc., and we noted a good collection of palms.  Kopje vegetation in the Matopos area provided more than adequate interest for our next field meeting and the following month we went into the grounds of a  school in the Burnside area; of the two granite areas the Matopos kopje offered the greater variety, as would be expected, but nevertheless the school grounds were well worth inspection.

These, then, were our field meetings, and in August we began making visits to the Hillside Dam area every two weeks, meeting at 1715 hours in the car park of the upper dam, west bank.  Although part of this area is given over to formal gardens, other sections are kept as natural vegetation and offer a great variety.  One field meeting during the year was cancelled because of wet weather surely a record for Matabeleland.  A good deal of unobtrusive activity has gone into fulfilling one of our Society’s objectives, that of  encouraging public awareness of trees, as for example when we took out the Horticultural Society and when we identified trees in private gardens.  One owner commented “there is much more in this than we realized”.  The “mini talks” given at field meetings represents research and a fund of information which can be mobilized when talks are needed, and I hope that as time goes on the youth of the country can be alerted as to the importance of trees.


This is just about my final fling as President of the Society.  It has been challenging and it has been fun.  Thank you for the help you have given over the last few years, and for the encouraging notes received from time to time on the subject of expeditions and newsletters.

From my wife and me, good luck for the future.  We seem to be away from Salisbury with ever increasing frequency, but we will continue to try to join the outings as often as possible.

Yours sincerely,



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter March 1979

Dear Member,

The Annual General Meeting of the Tree Society was held at Queen Victoria Museum Auditorium on 6th February 1979.

Our guest speaker, Mr. Blake Goldsmith, drew a fascinating word picture of Chirinda Forest and I am sure that if any one present had never had the privilege of visiting this ecological jewel they would still have been entranced by the talk.  Of particular fascination to me was the little elephant shrew, Petrodromus tetradactylus swynnertonii with its phosphorescent spots behind the eyes.

Turning to the more mundane matters of business, the meeting accepted the President’s wish to stand down and the following office bearers were elected:

President                            Mr. G. R. Hall

Vice President                   Mrs. L. Irvine

Secretary                             Mrs. M. Hall

Treasurer                            Mrs. B. Tunney

Members                            Mrs. S. Duncanson, Miss J. Ryan, Mrs. C. Haxen, Mr. R, W. Petheram, Mr. A. Ellert

Although I have only been an active member of the Society for a relatively short period, I am aware as you all are, of the service and interest Mr. R. W. Petheram has given to all aspects of the Tree Society, at all times, both before and after he became President.

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of us all, in thanking him for his efforts and wishing the new President and all officers the best of luck in their efforts.

The outing for February was to the woodland area surrounding Cleveland Dam.  Although of interest, it was nevertheless sad to see the damage done to the area by fire, the afternoon activities were somewhat curtailed by rain.

Udu Dam Visit – Inyanga:  An outing to Udu Dam, Inyanga is being arranged for the Easter holiday.  An Express coach will leave town, opposite Post Office at 0800 hours on Good Friday the 13th April returning to Salisbury on Easter Monday, the 1th April, leaving Inyanga at approximately 1330 hours.

The cost of the trip will be $20 per person and this will cover the cost of the coach fare and three nights accommodation in the lodges.  These are fully equipped and it is only necessary to provide food for 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 suppers, together with what refreshments are considered necessary.

Will those interested please fill in the appended form.  Obviously this is subject to final security clearance and adequate response from members.  However, in the event of there being spare seats, members of other societies will be contacted.  Payment must be made by 23rd March to ensure your booking.  For any further queries please contact Mrs. L. Irvine.


The February outing to Mr. Ken Harmer’s Pecan Nut Orchard was most interesting and enjoyable.  Ken is a pioneer in the growing of this crop in Matabeleland, and undoubtedly future growers will call on him for help and advice, for by trial and error he is fast becoming an expert.  He has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge, by reading, by correspondence with Pecan Nut growers all over the world, by practical experience, and he gave us a fascinating morning.  Two intriguing snippets of information come to mind as I write.  A Pecan Nut tree requires two thousand leaves to produce one nut and the very first food ever to be eaten on the moon was a Pecan Nut!

Our Wednesday afternoon ‘strolls’ will in future take the form of teaching sessions, at the request of new members and beginners.  Our meeting place will be the Upper Dam Sable Road, at 1715 hours.  March dates are the 14th and 28th, April dates the 11th and 25th.




Our appreciation of nature’s gifts has seldom been more profound than it was under the stresses and strains of 1978.  To many of us, I believe, the monthly outings became something more than the pleasure jaunts they used to be.  They remained, I think I may say, relaxed and lighthearted, but there was a deeper awareness of the fragility of the peace and tranquility we enjoyed wherever we went, and therefore, a deeper sense of the wonders of woodland, forest and stream.

In expeditions from Salisbury, most of our destinations were within a 50km radius of the City, with Saffron Waldon, Christon Bank and Hallam Dam among the most memorable of them.  A little further afield we visited Mr. Fenwick at Concession; on another occasion there was an unrehearsed descent upon Mr. Trevor Gordon’s Darwendale farm when gremlins decided that for Tree Society members, that was as  good an area as any for a transport breakdown; and enjoyable days were also spent at Vand Pass on the Great Dyke and on Mr. Jack Bowe’s Umfuli river boundary near Hartley.

Those have all been full day outings, and in all cases the Members in charge, Police have been most cooperative.  They are always relieved to know, however, that we propose to be out of their areas by about 1530 hours and this is to the least we can do in prudence, and also in acknowledgement of their problems.

This being so, the Committee has been considering occasional half-day outings, terminating at 1400 hours or thereabouts.  I stress the word ‘occasional; because it seems to me that our leisurely picnic lunches in the country are among the most enjoyable features of the outings.  For very short journeys, though, the half day fare would be cheaper, and in a normal rainy season the probability of afternoon showers must also be taken into account.

By contrast, I may say, you will be hearing later in the evening of a proposal to visit Inyanga for 2 to 3 days.


Binga Swamp Forest, Arcturus.  There is little to add to the summary of events contained in the October newsletter to the effect that after a great deal of study, discussion and correspondence, in which Mr. Tselentis, the owner, the Department of Natural Resources, Conex and the Arcturus Rural Council and I.C.A. have all been involved, a large section of the vlei and sponge leading down to the forest has been fenced.  This is an administrative arrangement; in other words the area of 17 ha 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 which is about 60 ha. In extent, other than at such times as Conex recommends periods of 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 approach its former level 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 over several months, and made possible through further financial aid arranged by the co-operative Department of Natural Resources.

I have continued to spend a minimum of a day a month out there on average, usually with two helpers, to tackle emerging thorn clumps of any size, sudden eruptions of lantana and other undesirables, and additional assistance has been received from the Weed Research Unit of Henderson Research Station, whose earlier rescue operations produced such dramatic results.

Lake McIlwaine Arboretum.  There have been four personal visits to the Arboretum, but no formal Society outings there.  This is partly for the reason that a group visit would have been too depressing.

Some months ago, there was a lot of vandalism there, the shelter was broken into our few chairs, tools and standards were stolen and the water installation as interfered with.  The once immaculate toilets were a disgrace.

As a temporary expedient the Water Bailiff agreed to permit one of his African hands to look after the place outside normal working hours, in return for a small bonus payable from Society funds.  This continued for four months, until National Parks were finally persuaded to assist by getting the Game Park gate attendants to oversee the area.

On my last visit to the Arboretum on 14th January 1979 the toilets were at least clean and flushing, although the standard of upkeep was not particularly high.  The Department of National Parks has suggested an onsite meeting, and this is something for the new committee to bear in mind.  I must say that I found the Department’s initial attitude of seeming indifference most distressing, and was relieved at the more conciliatory tone of the last letter.  I am grateful to Sir Athol Evans for assisting me, by letter, to remind the Department of the joint nature of the Arboretum venture at the time of its inception in 1957 and the fact that the area has never ceased to be part of the National Park.

The Makabusi Woodlands.  At last year’s AGM it was reported that difficulties had been encountered in establishing a legal body to negotiate a lease with the Municipality with the idea of taking over and administering the Woodlands.  The City Council could not be expected to enter into a long term contract with anything so amorphous as an informally convened Committee of interested people calling themselves the Makabusi Woodlands Committee, no matter how genuine their intentions might be.

At the time I stated that we were in the process of trying to persuade the Conservation Trust to assume a maternal as well as an avuncular financial interest in the well being of the project.

After seemingly endless legal processes, the Conservation Trust has at last succeeded in completing all the requirements for the registration of a non-profit Company to be called the Makabusi Woodlands Association, and I understand from the Director of the Trust that confirmation of registration is expected almost hourly, rather than daily.

The Association will comprise representatives of the Conservation Trust and the City Council and various natural history societies of which we are one.

During the year the committee has had a number of meetings and, through the medium of sub-committees, has prepared a building plan for the proposed interpretative centre with office and storeroom facilities, and recommendations dealing with the division of the area into various land use zones.  These recommendations embody not only plans for differentiating between recreational areas on the one hand and protected area on the other, but also provide, as a basis for future management, a system of firebreaks, fences and trails.

There has been very considerable restiveness among societies because of the seemingly endless delay in getting the project off the ground.  This is perfectly understandable, but, as is often the case, the most hurtful and ill-informed criticism has come from those who have made least effort to help in the planning.

However, that is all water under the Makabusi bridge, I hope, and the coming weeks will show to what extent the Trust and the societies will be able to co-operate in the new form of association, and what success they will have in negotiations with the Municipality.  Obviously, political uncertainty could generate further delays, and there are already indications that one of the major affiliated societies is having second thoughts about a financial involvement, partly because of that.

Item 4 of last year’s minutes records that $250 had been firmly pledged by this Society, a very small sum by comparison with the sums on offer from other societies, and that a minimum of another $250 could be aimed at.  This aim has been added to our pledge, but in all the circumstances, I did not feel, in 1978, that it was opportune to mount a general campaign to raise contributions from members for the Makabusi project.  It will come, and in addition, it is possible that regular contributions from the general public will be encouraged by the creation of categories of supporters called Adult Friends and Junior Friends of the Association.

It has been my contention all along that in a joint venture of this nature, there would be merit in a system whereby each Society in turn provided the Chairman of the administrative body for a period, if this could be achieved without serious loss of continuity.  To this end, after several months of prior notice, I withdrew from the chair of the Committee last month, feeling that the Tree Society had done its stint in that capacity for the time being.  For the remaining interim period, until the new Association is formally constituted, Mr. A.N. Masterson has accepted Chairmanship, an exceptionally happy choice because of his legal expertise, in close association with the Conservation Trust, and the prominent part he has played in drawing up the draft lease for discussion with the City Council.

The Tree Society has also been represented on the Makabusi Woodlands Committee by Mr. George Hall and Miss Judy Ryan.  It has been a trying experience for Mr. Hall, I think, because for some time he has felt that, constitutionally, the makeup of the Committee and its ill defined relationship with the Conservation Trust left a lot to be desired.

While sharing his misgivings, I have been convinced that it was imperative to grit our teeth and carry on until there could no longer be any doubt that the new Association would be registered by the Conservation Trust.  To do otherwise could have stopped the Trust in mid stride, and would have laid the Tree Society leadership open to the charge of engineering yet another breakdown in the already lamentable history of ups and downs in the Makabusi saga.

At a recent meeting, attended in an observer capacity by the Director of the Trust, George’s misgivings were re-enforced by the opinions of others, and were given a very thorough airing.  I feel sure that the whole concept of Trust responsibility and of working relationship between the Trust and the affiliated Societies; in the context of the Makabusi Woodlands, will now be satisfactorily sorted out.  I repeat the assurance I have received, to the effect that the company registration is now virtually an accomplished fact.

In addition to his work on the main committee Mr. Hall has been Convener and Secretary of the Building sub-committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. Ronnie James, the Ecological subcommittee chaired by Dr. Tom Choate and Finance subcommittee headed by Mr. John Parsons.

Miss Judy Ryan is on two of these subcommittees, and to both these members we owe a lot of thanks for shouldering a pretty tough assignment.

Lake McIlwaine Bird Sanctuary and Education Centre  We had the pleasure of visiting the Research Station at Lake McIlwaine in August, and of viewing the thrilling concentration of waterfowl along the lake shore nearby.  What was then loosely referred to as a bird sanctuary might in future be cared for as a nature reserve in a broader sense, and this term of course embraces our trees and all the insect, animal and bird life dependent on the lake.  Tentatively, in fact, the area is being referred to in discussions as an education centre, but nobody has a class-room type of centre in mind.  With the help of other societies National Parks have built a hide and the area is being fenced, but we have supplied a number of additional indigenous trees, with suggestions concerning their siting.  In doing so we have had regard to advice supplied by Mr. Muller to the Research Station  on tree species appropriate to the area.

This project is very much in its infancy.  We are indebted to Mr. Anton Ellert for most of the seedlings.  Mr. Hall and I have managed to supply a few.  They are being used in the main not merely to attract birds but to screen approaches to breeding places.

Epworth Balancing Rocks area.  Mr. Colin Williams quietly continues to represent the Society on the National Trust’s Epworth Rocks Project sub committee.

I gather from his report that while progress is not spectacular, the subcommittee is steadily progressing with its work of maintenance and planning.  Finance is not readily available and all ideas on building, road or entrance developments have to be cleared with the local council.  A comprehensive plan has been drawn up, however, to cater for the various uses envisaged for the area, and this specifies zones for recreation and picnicking, rock-climbing, aloe planting and educational activities.

Presumably the ultimate success of the project will depend very largely on the attitude and enthusiasm of the large Epworth Mission population.


Plant Protection.  Enquiries during the year seemed to indicate that there was not much likelihood of many trees being included in the revised schedule of plants enjoying protection under the Wild Life Act.  As mentioned last year, a point of some importance appears to be that some of the rarer trees are in National Parks where they are automatically protected.  It is expected that the revised schedule will be gazetted on Friday 9th February.  Until it is gazetted, there is not much point in speculating on what it will contain.

Decimation of indigenous woodlands for firewood.  A very considerable amount of time has been spent on this problem.  I will try to confine this report to a list of some of the aspects into which research has been done letter written, and meetings attended :

a              Following months of unproductive correspondence with the Municipality and discussions with Township Superintendents, an appeal to the NRB for a continued Eucalyptus plantation campaign throughout the country and support for the principle of subsidization of electricity by both State and Local Authorities;

b             a letter given prominence in the Sunday Mail in February last year, seeking to direct the attention of the public to some of the disturbing aspects of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into our hardwood industry;

c              the regular renewal of pressure on the Department of Natural Resources for action on the gum plantation and electricity subsidization issues;

d             enquiries into electricity connection and installation fees and deposits in African townships around Salisbury, and two meetings with the Chairman of the NRB, partly to appeal for the weight of the NRB support for some rationalization of these widely varying changes.  On the second of these meetings I was accompanied and supported by Mr. Hall and Miss Ryan.

e             discussion with a member of the ESC staff concerning a revolving fund to ease the burden of initial outlay on the wiring of houses in African townships, particularly in some of the smaller municipalities, and the transfer of information of the nature to the NRB;

f              correspondence with the Managing Director of one of the big mining groups on firewood contracts for mines, and, incidentally, also correspondence with the Chairman of the Forestry Commission on the use of Msasa timbers for railway sleepers;

g              correspondence and discussions on the availability of compacted briquettes from timber waste, and on the availability of charcoal from waste wattle;

h             enquiries into the capacity and pricing of coal stoves and solar heating installations;

i               a renewed appeal, through the NRB for RBC/TV to harness the power of visual impact by filming progressive timber use and conservation practices on Mr. Gordon’s farm;

j               a meeting with representatives of the Salisbury Group of ICAs which included also, representatives of the Salisbury City Council, the Department of Natural Resources, the Wild Life Society, the Forestry Commission and the Wankie Colliery.  This meeting is to be followed up.  One of the many points discussed at this and at other meetings was that of imposing sterner penalties as a deterrent against illegal woodcutting for sale.  There is no doubt that some of the “admission of guilt” penalties are laughable, but whatever the penalty, malpractice will almost inevitably persist unless alternative fuels become cheaply available.  Another of the many issues was that of tax incentives for the establishment of woodlots on farms;

k              a request to the Chairman, NRB, to arrange that copies of a Time Magazine article on “Deforestation and Disaster” be lodged in the parliamentary boxes of every MP and Senator.  The article refers to the disastrous misuse of 300 sq. miles of Brazilian jungle and was kindly sent to me some months ago by Mr. Gordon;

l               a successful appeal to the Government Tender Board to remove from their fire wood tender documents, a preferential clause in favour of indigenous wood.

If it seems to you that this bewildering assortment of trails and enquiries of arguments and comparisons of appeals and discussions is time consuming and non productive, I can only say that there is no one more bitter about the frustrations than I.  One hopes, naturally, that each facet of this multi sided probe might help a little towards easing the pressure on indigenous trees.  Conservation education is another issue which obviously arises from all this but in the meantime our woodlands recede ever more each month.

Whatever the evils of subsidization, my personal conviction remains as it has been for two years that this is a national crisis which demands electricity subsidization  with the greatest possible speed.  If electric power capacity is likely to be a problem, as I suppose it might conceivably be if we are talking in terms of millions of additional domestic units as well as many hoped for industrial ones, then a nationwide campaign on coal use should be launched, again with subsidization if need be.  I am not endeavouring to over simplify the problem, but we must continue to press and press hard for some positive move.


I am sorry to report that our friends at Ayrshire are going through a torrid time with the loss of some members, the illness of others and the preoccupation of all with security duties.  It is just possible therefore that the branch might close down although this does not mean that everybody will cancel membership of the Society.  I have a letter ready to post conveying our warm regards and assuring them that I am confident that if they do close the branch and remit their modest funds to us they need not regard the funds as lost to them for all time and that we hope they will find themselves in a position to revive the branch within a few years.

The Matabeleland Branch, happily, seems to be going from strength to strength, as members will have gathered from Miss Webber’s Annual Report, which accompanied the last newsletter.  I congratulate them on a very successful year, and although sympathizing with their single complaint of losing Mr. Dry on promotion, transfer to Salisbury, I assure them, quite unashamedly that we have designs on Mr. Dry when he has had time to settle down.

The learner group.  Because of our frequent absences from Salisbury, the learner group which I began four years ago has had a very lean time indeed during the last year.

The meetings of this group were a source of special pleasure and satisfaction to Mrs. Gill Masterson and to me, and Mrs. Masterson’s mastery of her subject frequently attracted to our Saturday afternoon meetings, members of long standing in addition to new members.

From the security angle, I felt it would not be fair to ask Gill to escort the group on her own, but we would both like very much to continue with the scheme whether on or off the committee and we hope to resume meetings on an ad hoc basis.

The National Botanic Garden and Herbarium.  Not only members of our Branches, but also members of the Tree Society of S. Africa are envious of our exceptional good fortune in having at hand the expertise and the unfailing helpfulness of the Head of this institution and of the equally distinguished keeper of the Herbarium.  To Mr. Tom Muller and Mr. Robert Drummond, our very sincere thanks for your continued kindness and guidance.

The Committee.  Your Committee has remained fairly constant for the last three years and our association has been a very pleasant one especially for me.  We co-opted Miss Judy Ryan early in 1978 to bring some fresh thinking into our affairs, and the choice has been a particularly happy one.  I dare not begin to thank each one individually.  Their many and varied duties would take too long to catalogue, and I would run out of adjectives in trying to express my thanks to each one individually.  I thank them all, most sincerely, for their unselfish service to the Society and for their great kindness to me.

Mr. Airey has been missed since his recent move to S. Africa, but we will always have his support and he is going to be an outstanding ambassador and link for us down there.

In the absence of a full time honorary secretary the minutes of all committee meetings, and any letters which have had to be typed rather than handwritten, have been very graciously and most efficiently dealt with by Mrs. Venetia Winkfield, who has the gift of making it seem that she has regarded it as a privilege.

Our arrangement with Duplicating Services who run off the Newsletter is a commercial one, of course.  The business relationship nevertheless, has been most cordial, and is yet another of the many pleasant facets of Tree Society administration.  My thanks and compliments to Mrs. Ivs and her colleagues.

As is always her way in any sphere of activity which means a lot to me, my wife has helped in every way possible with Tree Society arrangements.  As a very obedient husband who has been forbidden to thank her publically, I just wish to make it known that I am determined to get her favourite white flowering indigenous Holarrhena established in the garden, as a tiny tribute.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter April 1979

Dear Member,

The trip of Sunday 18th March to Mr. and Mrs. Harris” plot at Ruwa proved to be highly successful and enjoyable.  After heavy rains during the night everything was delicious and the ground soft and damp.

The area is on a slight rise with a granite outcrop and contained many large trees, specimens of Erythrina abyssinica, Ficus capensis, Acacia sieberiana, some smaller Celtis africana and Syzygium.  Plenty of Msasa but no Mnondo.

We rambled leisurely about, enjoyed the trees and rock formations, and birds until noon when we had our picnic lunch under pine trees before boarding the bus to reach town before 1400 hours.


Owing to circumstances out of our control your committee has been obliged to cancel the Udu Dam trip.  In view of the developments on the national scene since we began planning the trip, I do not think anyone will be surprised.

It is a long time since we have had a weekend trip, and the committee has been discussing Inyanga as an obvious possibility for many moons, and a few years ago we talked about the possibility of a weekend visit which could take in excursions into the extensive forests which clothe much of the escarpment south of Inyangani.  Security considerations will continue to exclude this for sometime so bearing this in mind we seized on the Udu opportunity with great enthusiasm after Lola and Douglas Irvine recce’d the place in January last.

I think it safe to say that the committee will continue to bear this in mind as a possible future weekend trip.

In passing I think it worthy of mention how impressive I found the Udu valley during a brief visit last year.

In years past I recall it as a rather depressing, eroded and poor part of the National Park.  Now that the Dam is in existence together with the high standard rest camp we have come to expect as normal, the conservation effect has spread up the whole valley, and my walk down the valley, going from forest patch to forest patch on the left side and finally across the dam wall and up into the Acacia abyssinica grove was very pleasant.

As a society, we so often find ourselves being critical of peer conservation I think it is very important to give credit where it is due, and in the case of the Udu Valley praise is certainly due to the Director of National Parks and his staff.


As the Easter trip has had to be cancelled we have substituted another visit to the Ruwa/Goromonzi district, this time to the farm of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Howman.  To avoid completely the election period we have fixed this outing for, most unusually, the 5th Sunday in the month, namely Sunday 29th April, and the writer hopes that for a change he will manage to attend.

LEARNER GROUP   This section of our Society’s activities will recommence in the very near future under the continued able direction of Mrs. Gill Masterson.  For the benefit of any new comers this, the learner group, or Saplings, meets somewhere close to town at weekends and is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to get  grounding in our more common, and sometimes, less common, Highveld tree.  For further information please phone Mrs. Masterson

BOTANIC GARDEN in the midst of all the other chopping and changing this month it is pleasing to say that this will carry on as usual on Tuesday 3rd April at 1645 hours.

LINCOLN ROAD PARKLAND.   We have received a reminder from the Avondale Parkland Group that Lincoln road is now looking its best following the rains and before the joint ravages of frost and fire assault it, and an invitation for us to go and have a look.  The annual open day will be held again this year at the end of July, but for the more serious minded now is the time to look.  Now a word of caution, the Avondale Parkland is not making an attempt to compete with the scientific and horticultural expertise displayed in the Botanic Garden or Nature’s own efforts at Epworth Balancing Rocks.  The achievement at Lincoln Road is relative to what was before.  In 1974 the vacant land in Lincoln road was urban waste land in the purest sense, apart from its attributes as a public rubbish dump it was almost sterile, a few tees struggled to survive, but mostly only between annual burns once again reduced them to ground level.  Then Mrs. Catherine Currie and the ladies of the Avondale Parkland Group got to work and I mean work.  I am proud to have been associated with this success story, but enough words, if anyone would like to go and see it, Lincoln Road, Avondale is off Natal Road.  I will be very happy to show anyone around and tell them what has been done and is being done.

IDEAS, SUGGESTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS.  The suggestion I mentioned above that we re-look at our Central bus pick up point has made me think that it would be a good idea to call for any ideas and or suggestions. We will be very happy to receive same.  Likewise tree observations, if any member notes anything of interest, for example, exceptional size, surviving indigenous trees in the urban area or trees doing unusual things, I should like to hear about same and space permitting we could publish the observations in this newsletter.  For example last year in Belvedere I found a Cassia singueana behaving as a rain tree and “raining” every bit as effectively as a Lonchocarpus capassa.  Has anyone else come across the “raining” habit in other trees?

AYSHIRE BRANCH.  The Honorary Secretary of the Branch has written to say that at their recent AGM members were against dissolution of the Branch.  Membership has dwindled now to 16 in Rhodesia and one in England where she resides for most of the year.  Well done Ayrshire Branch.  We are going through a difficult spell but the more we can hold on I think the better it will be.

MATABELELAND BRANCH.  Unfortunately gremlins have entered to postal system and the monthly Matabeleland notes have been delayed somewhere.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter May 1979


Although in April we broke from tradition and held our outing on the 5th Sunday of the month instead of the 3rd there was no break in the tradition that everyone enjoyed themselves tremendously.  The only disappointment was the fact that military commitments, unfortunately once again, prevented our President, George Hall, from joining us.  We are most grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Jack  Howman for their warm hospitality and also to Miss Alison Howman who gave us an introduction to the climatic conditions of the area and some thoughts on why some of the trees were so large, appropriate as we were assembled in the shade of an enormous Brachystegia glaucescens, Mountain Acacia, which in everyone’s opinion was as fine a specimen as any we have ever seen.  Near at hand were a couple of Ochna puberula, Granite Ochnas, which were about 4m high, double the size we are accustomed to see.  I took the opportunity of saying a few words in favour of the much maligned, often justly so, common or popular names for trees.  We then made our way down to the little dam, naturally a slow process as there was much to see – the Terminalia which turned out to be Turrea nilotica, small mahogany, when we discovered the flowers; the yellow sap characteristic of the Garcinia genus, this time in Garcinia huillensis, Granite Garcinia; there was also Cussonia arborea, Octopus Cabbage Tree; Acacia macrothyrsa, large leaved Acacia, the common name referring to the leaves not the leaflets; Pterocarpus angolensis, mukwa or bloodwood, which name was demonstrated; and some real Terminalias, Terminalia sericea, mangwe or Silver Terminalia, with its characteristic galls.  There was also a discussion and demonstration of leaves and some of the terms used to describe them, notes and drawings of which we hope to produce in the next newsletter.  The little dam was a delight with water iris, water lilies and Waterberry, Syzygium cordatum, Rhamnus prinoides, shiny leaf, with its little red berries and that lovely creeper, Mussaenda arcuata.  We also had the pleasure of finding a Pittosporum viridiflorum in yellow fruit and it was only when we opened the fruit and saw the sticky red seeds inside that we realized what we were admiring.  Another exciting sight was Faurea speciosa, broad leaved beech wood, with its creamy pink catkin like flowers.  I cannot leave that spot without a mention of the Cassia singueana, winter Cassia, in full flower which was striking and admired by all.  They seem to be flowering particularly early this year.

After lunch eaten in the shade of those beautiful Mountain Acacias on a lovely green lawn to the accompaniment of running water, we wandered round the trees near the cottage, through a magnificent stand of Uapaca kirkiana, mahobohoba, or as one member insisted, muzhanje, several of which were in fruit, unfortunately still green.  Other trees which we saw in fruit were Euclea natalensis, large leaved Euclea, whose leaves always look dirty due to the presence of brown hairs on the undersurface, Ficus burkei, Ficus capensis, Cape Fig, and Allophylus africanus, African Allophylus.  Although visible to the naked eye, several people had hand lenses and we were able to examine the pockets of hairs in the axils of the veins on the underside of the leaves of Allophylus, supposed to be the distinguishing feature between the Allophylus and the Rhus genera.

Inevitably discussion on the differences between Vangueria infausta, wild medlar, and Vangueriopsis lanciflora, false wild Medlar, arose particularly as none of the Vanguerias were branching from just above ground level as they are supposed to do.  Various members put forward their pet theories on how they tell the difference.


A small group accompanied Mr. R. B. Drummond to the tropical evergreen section and the new stream which was unfortunately not flowing.  Of great interest is the new record for Rhodesia Ocotea kenyaensis a small transplant into the garden from the Eastern Districts.  Out thanks to Bob for the usual informative talk and what I personally, after a particularly rushed period, found so relaxing.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter June 1979

 I was finally able to attend an outing and I am indebted once again to Meg Coates Palgrave for her record of what a lovely outing.  I have only one comment to elaborate on Meg’s contribution.  There was a troop of Vervet Monkeys close by, they were watching us, and I think they learnt something, watching our members descend on the orange orchard.


Despite giving up, very willingly, our luxury coach to the Surrey Rugby team and its substitution by a very ordinary bus, we can once again record a most enjoyable day at “Muunze” the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bulman.  Although the number of people was slightly lower than usual the number of trees recorded was most satisfactory and the list handed to our hosts at the end of the day contained 71 species not including a leafless Erythrina which we were unable to identify nor the rock splitting fig, if that proves to be other than Ficus burkei.

Mr. Bulman showed us an aerial photograph of the area taken shortly before they moved on to the property, demonstrating how the area had been denuded of trees by fires and firewood gathers.  It was most interesting to see how satisfactorily regrowth is taking place as a result of 12 years protection.  On several occasions the first time we saw a species I felt a little guilty at recording its presence by such a small specimen, but, almost always, we subsequently found a proper tree of the same species.  The dominant species were Julbernardia globiflora, mnondo, and also in parts Uapaca kirkiana, mahobohoba; the highlight was Protea angolensis, Northern Protea, with its beautifully new fresh white flowers.  We commented on the similarity, with its pink stems, a distinguishing feature, to Maytenus senegalensis, confetti tree.  Of course, on closer inspection the Confetti Tree has thorns and petioles and its leaf has a scalloped margin but at a distance they can be confused.  We did see a Confetti Tree in bud.  The very brief flowering time is usually May to June and to digress for a moment, for those who live in the Braeside/Hillside area or have occasion to visit the airport, there is a lovely M. senegalensis in the park between Malta and Nettleton Roads, which would be worth watching for the next few weeks in the hopes of seeing it in flower.

Until we found late leaves, flowers and early fruits bare Euphorbia matabelensis, three forked Euphorbia, had us guessing as to which Commiphora we were looking at!  Terminalia stenostachya, rosette leaved Terminalia, its rosettes of leaves which individually bend back and red fruits made it distinguishable from Terminalia mollis, large leaved Terminalia, which has yellow green fruits and Terminalia trichopoda, hybrid Terminalia, whose young branches peel and flake as in Terminalia sericea, silver Terminalia, which we also saw.  The presence of Dichrostachys cinerea, sickle bush, fortunately not obtrusive, without flowers or pods, led to a discussion on how to distinguish it from an Acacia and we discovered that the thorns are in fact modified branchlets, often with growth starting on them, whereas Acacias have paired spines at the nodes, where the leaf joins the stem, or scattered prickles.

None of the Albizia antunesiana, purple leaved Albizia, were showing the purple sheen expected of them.  However, with the asymmetric leaflet base and lack of  “standing up” glands between each pair of leaflets we were able to distinguish them from Cassia singueana, winter Cassia, one or two of which we saw in flower.  There was a particularly magnificent specimen of Monotes glaber, pale fruited Monotes, standing well above the other trees with its distinctive dark stem and yellow green leaves.  We wondered why it had been left uncut.  I have been unable to discover any possible reason for this other than that the wood is dense and hard and there is no reference to its desirability as firewood.  Despite protection now afforded to the area we did find a couple of Burkea africana recently cut down.  Was this for the edible caterpillars from which the tree gets its Shona name “Mukarati” meaning “the tree with caterpillars”?

Swartzia madagascariensis, snake bean, without pods presented us with another point for discussion and it was decided that the criteria were met.  The leaflets were alternate, had a notched apex and the terminal leaflet was the largest and inclined to stick out sideways, rather like the terminal leaves of Hexalobus monopetalus, Shakama plum, which we had seen shortly before.

Lunch was eaten on the terrace in front of the homestead overlooking Lake McIlwaine and in the shade of various trees, including Brachystegia glaucescens.  In the garden between two boulders with its bright green leaves and reddish branchlets was a Phyllanthus discoideus, tree Phyllanthus.  Sorry the taxonomists have been at work and apparently this is now called Margaritaria discoidea, common name still under discussion.

After lunch we wandered to the west and south of the homestead.  A rather unusual and lovely sight was Rhoicissus revoilii, warty grape, in fruit, growing as very handsome trees with their strange shaped leaves covered with tawny down and the under surfaces.  We have frequently had discussions about the similarities between Cassine, Pleurostylia africana, Northern coffee pear, and Tarenna neurophylla, common Tarenna and on Sunday, having at first identified Pleurostylia as Tarenna we were able to sort out, to our satisfaction, the differences.  Cassine, of course, have leaves with serrated margins while the other two have entire margins.  Common Tarenna, a member of the RUBIACEAE family, has the characteristic inter-petiolar stipule, sometimes only visible on the very young shoots, and the very definite opposite leaves.  The other feature noted was that the petiole and into the midrib was furrowed or grooved, (sulcate is the correct term), and that the tips of the stems were inclined to be purplish brown and rather square.  Pleurostylia on the other hand had some leaves which were sub opposite, the petioles were longer and if anything inclined to be slightly ridged.  We then found a specimen in fruit, which can best be described as an elongated berry with the remains of the style on the side and not at the end as one would expect.  Tarenna has little round berries, black when mature.

Finally, my personal thanks to all those who made sure I had recorded everything and our very sincere thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Bulman for their warm hospitality including making us free of their citrus orchard.  No member was noticed to comment that these were not indigenous trees and pass them by!

AVONDALE PARKLAND A small group of members led by Mrs. Catherine Currie toured the Lincoln road property on Saturday 12th May.  Of the original planting the Acacia polyacantha are now doing much better than the planted Acacia sieberiana.  We were intrigued by the leaf variations in a group of Combretum erythrophyllum, river Combretum, planted in December 1977, some opposite, some alternate and some a mixture with groups of 3 leaves.

It was encouraging to see that many of the trees have been ‘adopted’ by children who look after their own special plant.  A metal tag on the tree names the boy or girl who is looking after it.

The pump is working and credit is due to those responsible for its donation and installation.

It was also pleasing to see the park land being used by other groups who were there independently of our planned visit.

All told a stimulating glimpse of an excellent combination of community effort and conservation education.  If every local community were adopting this realistic attitude we would be well on the way to winning the battle.

MAKABUSI WOODLANDS.  On Tuesday May 15th I was able to join the Woodland Walkers.  The woods looked well but of immediate concern is the fact that we are still losing too many of the non dominant plants, Protea and Ochna for example.

On the aspect of management we learnt during the month that registration of the company is still being delayed, and whilst our Society has always been more concerned with the protection of the indigenous woodland than the more specialized interpretive services centre, it is disturbing to note that administrative delays are coinciding with the reduction in numbers of important components of the flora and perhaps complete loss of some rarer ones.


My apologies to members in the west, the unavoidable delay to May newsletter meant we could not get your May programme in.  However, coming events are :

Saturday June 3rd : Visit to mixed Acacia and Combretum Woodland 8 km from city centre.  Meet at 0845 hours at Retreat Shopping Centre and bring tea.

Sunday July 1st : Meet at same place and time.  We hope to visit a farm 25 km from the city centre.  Lunch by the dam.

Hillside Dams Walk –  Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday in the month : meet at Impala Road Car Park, Upper Dam.  Those who are able to come at 1530 hours and those who work at 1715 hours.

During a brief visit to Bulawayo, time only permitted me to see the Chairman for a useful exchange of ideas.  I stayed at the municipal caravan and camping site, a credit to the City Council.

In the Tree Society files I recently read some notes made by Douglas Aylen on the good job Bulawayo was then doing on the river belt.  A decade later it is good to see the work continuing, but it would be nice to see the Authorities begin a plan to replant indigenous trees along the Matsheumhlope.  River Combretum and Rhus lancea came immediately to mind and there are others which could well be considered, it might even be possible to re-establish Syzygium cordatum whilst the ancient gum trees provide a suitable protection from severe frost.

Coming out of the airport, and a glimpse of the ground beyond the Umgusa showed now no matter how often we comment on encouraging aspects of conservation, there can never be any room for complacency, what we have got to have in the coming years is intensive education and action to stop the rot conservation wise.


Two points in this newsletter, the possible loss of species in the Makabusi and the land around the Umgusa have prompted my thinking about that objective of our Society, briefly – “protection of indigenous vegetation and fostering proper management”.

Our Society has a proud record in this, witness innumerable specific projects we are engaged in.  But as the Umgusa made me realize, there can be no relaxation.  I have talked to members this month who have indicated to me that we must do more, be more belligerent if necessary, and whilst I feel we are still a long way off parading down Jameson Avenue waving placards, I think we must all be prepared to recognize the changing times and that certainly in the immediate short term, time is not on our side, and therefore everyone concerned with our environment must be prepared to speak up.


At our May meeting at Muunzi it was a great pleasure to see Mr. Rudyard Boulton who had been away. ‘Across the road’.  Just as he arrived we were discussing the number of young fruit trees growing up under the cover of Mnondo and Rud suggested that we are overdue in a project to identify fruit eating habits of birds, what they eat and when.

Thank you Rudyard.  We did not finalize our plans, but basically we see some kind of record card or sheet which the observer can compile and these be then recorded centrally.

More on this next month as I do not  want to delay this newsletter.  In the meantime if any member has any ideas or experience in this sort of project I would like to receive them.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter July 1979

 Dear Member,

It is with great sadness that we have heard of the tragic death of Mrs. Marjory Button.  Marjory was a stalwart attendee at both of our Salisbury monthly outings and the Makabusi Walker.  She will be greatly mourned by all her friends.

SALISBURY JUNE 1979 MEETING AT MR. ALAN FOOT’S FARM, TRIANDA I am indebted to Mrs. Gill Masterson for the following :

Trianda Farm is in the Selby area of the Mazoe District at an altitude of 4720 feet, and Sunday June 17th was exceedingly cold, the sky and wind grey and grey and chilling.  We embarked on the motor coach clad in several layers of jerseys and coats.  Turning off the Lomagundi Road, right, down the Old Mazoe Road to the Selby turn off, crossing the railway and re-crossing it later, to our first stop at a rustic bridge with Rhus longipes in flower which thereafter we saw continuously.

Arriving at Trianda Farm we were welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Foot, three of whose children ex school, had accompanied us from Salisbury.  At the house we saw a fine example of Ficus sycomorus full of birds and the Bird Society people who came with us were at once out with their binoculars.

Just beside and behind the house is a group of Albizia amara and growing amongst them two well grown, smooth mottled barked trees, Stereospermum kunthianum, pink jacaranda, amazingly in June, one had flowers.

The soil on the farm is contact, i.e. where granite is adjacent to the basement rocks and it is at such points that gold may be found and sure enough later in the day we saw some old prospectors trenches at the foot of the kopje.

Leaving the house we went a short distance to the dam besides which, in a hollow with marshy ground, there is a patch of quite thick woodland and Mr. Foot had kindly cut a way through the long grass so we could enter and also incidentally get out of the cold wind.  Here we found in closed canopy Acacia sieberiana and after inspection and discussion finalized by Sybil Duncanson, Acacia rehmanniana showing rust coloured patches on the bark with very fine leaflets, Brachystegia spiciformis, msasa, and Mfuti, Brachystegia boehmii, and sprouting up under the trees and rather elongated the elusive Tapiphyllum velutinum, this latter has paired opposite woolly grey leaves rather smaller than those of Combretum molle from which it can be distinguished by its interpetiolar stipules, Tapiphyllum being a Rubiate. It is widely distributed but not common, when you do find it, then there seems to be a whole community.  As well as the Tapiphyllum, throughout the woodland were the shiny green leaved Rhamnus prinoides which like damp soil and is often riverine.  Another plant which one does not often see in Brachystegia woodland was plentiful with broader, slightly succulent leaves, Phytolacca dodecandra which was flowering in creamy elongated heads about 4 inches long.

There was Securinega virosa, snow berry, but sterile, a few Combretum molle, one Erythrina grown straight and tall to the light, probably E. abyssinica, a Pittosporum viridiflorum, the odd Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia, duiker berry, in wrinkled fruit.  We saw one stunted Ozoroa reticulata and Psorospermum febrifugum, Rhodesian holly, with leaves rusty on the veins beneath, quite a number of young Ochna schweinfurthiana. and two clumps of small Zanha africana, and surprisingly at so high an altitude one or two Rauvolfia caffra, the quinine tree.  The only red colour came from the young leaves of Ficus capensis, Cape fig.

After touching in again at the homestead we drove on to the foot of a long flat topped ridge like kopje.

At the foot of this with the sun shining we had lunch and felt quite warm.  After lunch the ‘birdy’ people went off in one direction and the rest of us climbed the kopje, so far as I was concerned along the easier contour paths, cattle made no doubt, zig zagging to the top.  There was repetition here, still with Tapihyllum velutinum and still a few Phytolacca dodecandra, one Julbernardia globiflora, mnondo, msasa, Ochna etc.  New on this side were Uapaca kirkiana, muzanje, Gardenia lutea,both Pavettas, P. schumanniana and P. gardiniifolia, a few Strychnos spinosa, the odd Ziziphus mucronata and here as in the morning very well grown Piliostigma thonningii, monkeybread, in big pod.

Two unusual plants were found, one a rare prize; first, growing as a slender liane, diameter about 2.5 inches which I took to be an erect growing Sarcostemina viminale, but lacking in milky latex and with alternate leaves it was Maerua juncea, leafless and grown into a large lump of twisting stems in the crown of a tree.  Usually it grows as a scruffy bush with elongated internodes on dusty roadside banks at about 3 feet and at lower altitudes and on anthills.

The second find was in the nature of a record, Edne Petheram, first along the top of the ridge, found two trees standing together and just over the lip of the ridge looking towards Mount Hampden in the middle distance the trees were about 7 to 8 feet high, 2 to 3 stemmed each and with bunches of leaves very similar to those of Uapaca kirkiana standing nearby, but with finely dentate margins and occurring only in bunches at the tips of each branch.  The bark was smooth and light grey and the leaves light green and shortly petioled and the midribs of the leaves conspicuous on both sides were yellow/orange perhaps autumn colouring.

Taken next morning to the National Herbarium to the Chief Botanist, Mr. Drummond, and this plant was at once identified as the very rare Ochna gambleoides, previously collected in the Urungwe district, on the Sipolilo Zambezi Escarpment and more recently somewhere near Bindura.  The specimen, unfortunately the trees at present lack either fruit or flower, was taken for the Herbarium’s records.

With tea at the homestead and farewell to our host and hostess with many thanks for a pleasant day we were back in town by about 1630 hours.


A good deal of time has passed since the Matabeleland Branch looked closely at Acacia species, so we did this for our June field meeting on a day when a cold south east wind was blowing hard and when any broad leaved trees had dropped their leaves.  At such times one really appreciates the Acacias for their hardiness.

We carried out an exercise to survey a wooded area of some 5 hectares and to assess the dominant species.  This resulted in Acacia karroo, A. rehmanniana and A. nilotica, frequent, and A. gerrardii, less frequent.  We found that it was necessary to take a close look at some young A. karroo trees because they had a brownish colour on their branches.  In fact it was very different from the powdery rusty red bark of A. rehmanniana which is exposed when the epidermis has fallen off.  Along the river course the A. karroo trees were significantly taller.  We found  bark removed from an A. karroo trunk and reflected on its possible use.  One book suggests it may be used to treat all or any part of the body!! – See Trees of the Kruger Park, Book 1.

There were two young Acacia polyacantha trees looking very attractive.  The same day we went to the proposed Rhodes/Bulawayo Sanctuary and there on a hillside were other Acacia species.  We found several A. robusta and A. chariessa bushes.  Having just seen the magnificent cattle on the show in Bulawayo we were interested to see the kind of veld which produces these results.


Branch Field Meetings are the first Sunday of every month.

Sunday July 1st : To Gordon Park.  Meet at Retreat at 0845 hours and bring braai lunch.  This is by kind permission of the Scout Commissioner.

Sunday August, 5th : Willow Park, Essexvale Road.  Meet at Hotel Rio at 0845 hours and bring tea.  Fine growth of Buddleja saligna; this is possibly the only region of Southern Rhodesia in which it grows; also there will be many surprises in the streams between the rolling hills.

Hillside Dams walks – Every 2nd and the Wednesday in the month.  Meet at Impala Road Car Park, Upper Dam.  For the winter months we are meeting at 1530 hours.  Last occasion resulted in a ‘find’ of Terminalia mollis and collection of fruits of Pterocarpus angolensis.


Perhaps a few words of explanation will be of value, especially to re-assure members outside Salisbury that the Society’s funds at large do not go towards any subsidy.  Whilst we deal with the Bus Hire account through the Society’s books we ensure that it pays for itself.

For those members who are able to attend the Salisbury outings by bus I must explain that with the rising costs it is now impossible to accurately assess the fare in advance and so far this month we are only going to be able to say that the fare will be plus or minus $2.50.  Naturally a lot depends on how many people do in fact attend and for this reason it is a great pleasure to see our friends from the R.O.S. on last month’s meeting.

It will help the planning if members and friends wishing to join the bus book as early as possible, but this in no way should deter anyone from making a late booking if they could not do so earlier; and of course, there is no objection to doing this by phone.

GEORGE HALL  President


Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter August 1979

 Dear Member,


Mr. Malcolm Leppard led the society on a slightly different walk, the emphasis being on tree inspections, what to look for to avoid losing that beautiful specimen seemingly in its prime or worse be responsible for damage caused through your tree falling on your neighbour’s property.  Some of us present were clearly depressed by thinking of what can go wrong with trees, but nevertheless an important aspect of our general study of trees and very thought provoking.  As Malcolm showed, the study and application of arboriculture does not yet receive the attention it deserves in this part of the world.  Naturally we lag behind the older countries in this regard, all the more reason for our community as a whole to begin thinking along these lines and planning for the future.

For me this walk underlined the fact that unlike those lands with a long written history we do in fact know very little about the age of trees and the exact nature of what would our climax vegetation on the Highveld, all other things being equal and FIRE removed.

A very interesting and stimulating outing, thank you Malcolm, and we look forward to a sequel when time permits.


On Sunday 15th July a fine sunny day, 24 joined the bus and 4 arrived later.  We went to the charming home of Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Burrows, Spelonken, at just over 4100 feet, overlooking Mazoe Dam lake and lying between the Mazoe and Dasura rivers.  After an impromptu game viewing of some friendly looking zebra and buffalo on the road in, we gathered on the lawn under a striking Muwanga, Pericopsis angolensis, and our host gave us brief details of the history of the place where an old trading post in the early days served the mining and prospector community and travelers on the old wagon road along the Mazoe.

We then moved down the well wooded gentle incline towards the lake shore after passing under another very fine individual, this time Pterocarpus rotundifolius.  Although the veld was dry, there was a great deal of interest and we met many species not normally seen in and around Salisbury, the colony of Holarrhena pubescens being of particular note.

CAPPARACEAE was well represented – Boscia salicifolia, Cadaba termitaria and three Maerua, M. angolensis, M. juncea and M. triphylla.  Combretum collinum showed just how variable it can be in regard to leaf form.  Monotes glaber was common on the flat land, but nowhere very tall, later on and higher up we saw a tall M. engleri on the lower slopes of the hill.  Our previous experience has tended to indicate that the latter species is found more at lower altitudes; clearly this observation indicates that there is more to it than altitude alone.

Near the lake a small colony of Wild Lemon trees persists and on the lake shore was one small Salix subserrata, cape Willow.  We had our picnic lunch in a pleasant spot near the lake and then moved back towards the homestead, around which is being developed a very interesting arboretum.  Then according to taste some members climbed the small him and others went along the road.

On the road we saw Ficus sonderi and Erythrina latissima.  On the hill beneath the peak crowned with a fine group of Umvumira, Kirkia acuminata, leafless but in fruit, the more agile climbed into a cleft in the rock to look at the well preserved grain bins.

Space does not permit me to say more, to dwell on the differences of Commiphora out of leaf, the hybrid Brachystegia spiciformis and B. glaucescens and the fine Euphorbia collection etc.

Our very grateful thanks to Hal and Marje for a  delightful day.


For the July outing we went to Gordon Park, the scout camping ground in the Matopos.  The object of the visit was to  label a number trees for the benefit of the scouts who will use the park in the future.  Although we labeled a considerable number we shall have to pay further visits, the quantity and variety being endless.  It was a most enjoyable occasion, and we thank Mr. and Mrs. Carlisle, our hosts, for their hospitality and welcome.


I expect we have all wondered from time to time why trees like Acacia karroo produce gum and just what they are.  This is an attempt to give some sort of answer and also to draw attention to the continuing importance of natural gums.

The what is easy to answer though in a rather dull, technical way!  The analytical chemists have been busy and the composition is known with great accuracy.  They are essentially ‘polyuronides’ consisting of sugar and uronic acid units.  Some gums have methoxyl groups, e.g. tragacanth; in others the acid complex is united with metals, e.g. acacia.  This means that they are carbohydrates similar to starch and cellulose, and closely related to a large number of other well known sticky substances.  Pectin and agar are examples.

 The why is more difficult.  The reason usually given in botany text books is that it is a protective response to wounding.  By filling up the wound with gum, disease organisms are excluded, until new tissue can be grown over the wound.  But this does not explain why some trees yield gum, others resins, and others nothing at all.  Yet all types successfully survive injury.  The ‘scientific’ explanation would probably go something like this: the production of protective gum confers an advantage that enables certain genes to survive into the next generation.  Remember, in terms of evolution, the survival of the genes seems to be the important thing.  As one writer has recently put it : it is the egg which is important, not the chicken, or tree or whatever.  The chicken is simply a machine the egg has made to produce more eggs, and so more genes!

In the face of such mental gymnastics I find the old view irresistibly attractive, namely that the gum yielding trees were made that way so that you and I would have something to stick things down with!

As I have said, in a world of synthetics, the natural gums remain important articles of commerce.  Even some “synthetics” are modifications of naturally occurring carbohydrates.  Dexrin for example is made from starch. Of the natural gums the following are among the most important: Acacia gum, Tragacanth gum and Sterculia gum.

Acacia gum, gum Arabic.  As office gum this will be familiar to everyone, but it has a much wider use than this.  My encyclopedia states that it is used in the manufacture of inks and confectionary, in textile printing, in ceramics, in leather processing and in pharmacy.  I can vouch for its continuing importance in the practice of pharmacy where it is daily used to suspend insoluble powders in mixtures, and to make emulsions of oils in water, such as cod liver oil, ugh!!  No doubt you have all suffered from these ministrations at one time or another.  Many Acacias produce good gums but the chief source today is Acacia senegal.  Sudan is the chief supplier.  Some gum is collected from natural exudation, but the most esteemed variety, Kordafan, is obtained by tapping trees, about 6 years old, in February and March after the rains.  Tapping is a simple matter of cutting the bark with an axe and pulling strips off above and below the cut.  Tears of gum form in about a month and can be picked off and marketed.  In the past Cape Gum from Acacia karroo was an important article of commerce.  I recall that years ago it was collected by the Government Printer in Zomba, Malawi, and used to make office gum.  A family of small rodents once lived in an old Acacia karroo in my garden.  The tree is long dead and the rodents departed, but I recall that it dropped gum continuously, forming a sort of glassy plaque of gum at its base.  The rodents were very partial to the gum, in fact it seemed to be their main food.  So it must not be forgotten that the natural gums are also important articles of diet for some animals, including the Night Ape.  A very similar gum is produced by the Apricot, now called Armeniaca vulgaris, is used to be Prunus!  It is used medicinally in Russia for the same purposes as Acacia.

Tragacanth Gum.  This fascinating gum will not be so well known.  Like Acacia it is important to pharmacists as a suspending agent, as a binding agent in tablets and in the manufacture of gels.  Very large quantities are used in calico printing and for making confectionery.  It is obtained by incision of the stems of various species of Astagalus, Legumin.  These are thorny shrubs found in the mountainous districts of Asia Minor across to Iraq and southern Russia.  Immediately on cutting the stem, gum gushes forth in soft but solid stream.  It can be collected after two days.

Sterculia Gum.  This is also known as Kharaya gum or Indian Tragacanth and was at one time thought to be an inferior substitute for tragacanth.  It has grown in importance of late years since it was shown to be superior for certain uses, particularly for making bulk laxatives.  The powdered gum is also used in lozengers and dental fixative powders and as a medical adhesive.  So it too has important medical uses.  The source tree is Sterculia urens.  It is produced in India, Pakistan and to a small extent in Africa.  In our area Sterculia africana and S. quinqueloba both give similar gums but not in commercially exploitable quantities.

Many other plants yield gums and mucilages which have gained an enduring place in official and folk medicine, too numerous to include here, but I hope I have said enough for you to look at our trees with a renewed sense of wonder.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter September 2018

Dear Member,


A large party happily including some new members, and others who have been missing for some time spent two hours following Mr. Muller around the garden.  Luckily we persuaded him to abandon his bicycle so we did not have to run.  We went through the Ficus section where once again I tried to absorb this question of the F. natalensis complex, and the differences both in leaf shape and in habitat of the members.

The validity of the common name of F. exasperata given by Coates Palgrave was discussed and Mr. Muller proposed a more apt common name.

After looking at some planted Brachystegia, including B. manga and B. microphylla, the latter having similarity to B. glaucescens, and found on the eastern slopes of the Chimanimanis, we moved into the Mazoe River section and here I must place on record that my personal interest in the roots of Mondia whitei was purely botanical.

Thank you Mr. Muller for the usual delightful as well as instructive walk about.


On Sunday 19th August 1979 a full busload descended on the homestead of Mr. and Mrs. Mellor at Umfuli Banks Farm on the right bank of the river not far above the main road bridge.  After filling us up with a wonderfully welcome tea and eats as soon as we debussed, Norman arranged a kind of selection course down a dry river bed to the lunch time picnic spot to enable us, the picnic lunch notwithstanding, to work up an appetite for an equally lavish tea and cake before we got on the bus to return home.

Now in case Mr. and Mrs. Mellor came to the conclusion that I lead an association of gourmets what we did between the eating – Umfuli Banks is approximately 3800 feet above sea level is mostly red soil derived from the banded ironstone ridge, unlike the neighbouring properties which are mostly on alluvial soil, crops grown being tobacco, cotton, maize and sorghum.  There are 4 old mines on the property and just across the river from the homestead is the old Butterfly Mine which once employed a large labour force.  There is a solitary baobab on an adjoining property which makes a twin with the big baobab outside Gatooma as being the sole representatives in this area.  Well outside their normal range I find these solitary baobabs fascinating and I think they must represent planted specimens; I would be interested to hear the thoughts of people more versed in this subject than myself.

We first went to the river banks near the homestead and the first tree we looked at was a large Berchemia discolor a tree we do not see near Salisbury.  We moved along the river fringe to the downstream boundary fence.  On the opposite bank were many splendid Dombeya rotundifolia in flower.

LOGANIACEAE was well represented with Strychnos potatorumNuxia oppositifolia growing in colonies on the river bank and at the lunch time spot.  Gomphostigma virgatum, a low shrub, which seems to bear no lose affinity to its bigger relations.

Maytenus senegalensis in colonies, in fruit on the river bank, looked very different from the specimen in my garden in Salisbury but the finding of bits of red on the leaves convinced others as well as myself that there was no doubt about it. Many other plants we found, enough to fill a few pages of my personal note book but what I think of more interest than the individual species themselves is the Umfuli valley itself.

I personally find it of great interest, it is a new region to me, I have only recently started penetrating the upper reaches.  The different species we find here confirms our understanding of it as a possible “migration corridor”, if I am using correct terminology.  Looking at the scoured out river bed, together with the couple of times we have seen it in a really angry mood in recent decades, when the river has spilled out over its banks and cut bridges, makes us realize it is no mean river.  It would be wonderful to be able to penetrate the mists of prehistory and observe what happened to the vegetation and ecology of the region in general during the last thousand years or so, before Henry Hartley started the gold rush last century.

Reverting back briefly to the present ecology we found Combretum represented by three species, C. fragrans along the river banks and C. hereroensis and C. imberbe on the lands, all 3 of which we either don’t see or only rarely so, nearer to Salisbury.

It was so nice to see some new faces and sad to be saying farewell to others.  It was only a pleasure to have Mr. R. Drummond with us on this outing, for him attending a  Sunday outing with us must mean a certain relief that he can identify what needs be on the spot and does not then have us beating a path to his door on Monday morning.

Our very grateful thanks to our hosts Mr. and Mrs. Mellor for a truly enjoyable day at Umfuli Banks.


The outing to Mr. and Mrs. Walern’s property, Willow Park, about half way between Bulawayo and Essexvale, was thoroughly enjoyed by the people who attended.  A tree filled gully was the main venue, the most interesting specimen identified being Buddleja saligna which was growing in profusion at the margin of the denser growth.  The map in Palgrave’s “Trees of Southern Africa” shows this shrub/tree as being very widespread in the republic but occurring only in the Esexvale area of Zimbabwe Rhodesia.

Our next outing, on September 2nd will be organized by Charles Sykes out at Glenville.  Meet at the City Hall Car Park at 0845 hours.


As I have already mentioned at meetings, our Society has refrained from the general clamour that is going on in press and on TV about TREE CUTTING or as I prefer to call it ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION.

Society has been drawing attention to this for years and as our President last year pointed out there is a certain danger in publicity; one, it stimulates that nasty little streak in human nature that says “If all the trees are being cut down we better quickly take the last few remaining before anyone else gets them” also publicity can pinpoint areas at present free from destruction and thus advertise same to the buzz saw barons.

The Tree Society policy is please no more talk what we want is work.  Work from everyone who can plant trees and protect existing indigenous vegetation from further destruction.  WORK from our Leaders who are able to frame legislation to aid the situation.

I will not comment on what legislation there should be here but work on the ground can be done and as was suggested to me at our last meeting, all our members and all the public generally now be encouraged to plant indigenous trees in their gardens and land on which they control.  In this way at least we will preserve a stock of plants and will help educate the whole community on plant life and ecology generally.

The mail this month has brought some comments which I feel are pertinent: Item of news from the Froma, Somerset, UK news sheet :  “Tree Planting – the loss of several elms and one very fine old beech in the past few years had prompted the P.C.C. to replant this road which leads up to the Church.  Twenty five people turned out to plant the trees on what must have been the only day in February it did not snow.  The trees were planted in pairs to match with existing trees so that eventually an avenue effect will be created … what better way of celebrating the planting of the trees than a poem by our resident poetess-supreme,

I think I shall never see                                                                  But if its branches never grow

The branches spreading over me                                              To shelter me, they may do so,

Of that oak I planted as a tree                                                    For those who follow after me

For 1979 A.D,                                                                                     In 2079 A.D.”

A member has sent me the following extract from a travel book on Central Asia: “Here the population lives in miserable surroundings, there are no trees for fuel, climate is too harsh to keep cattle and so unlike the neighbouring places there is no dung to burn.  The only firewood comes from long dead roots which are dug out of large sand drifts between the settlement and the mountains.  It is said that these roots are the last remains of the forests which formerly covered the valley floor and the mountain slopes up to the snow line.”


Our members are invited to a meeting at the Ambassador Hotel at 1715 hours on 21st September 1979 to come and contribute to the solution of this central problem, that is to say the firewood or ‘HUNI CRISIS’.

Whilst I look upon the RSA, I think quite correctly, as our Parent Body, it is with respect that I say, I do hope that this meeting will produce WORK as well as resolutions and recommendations.  I hope to be able to attend.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter October 1979

 For the month of October we are breaking our routine and are having a local meeting to cater for those members who are not able to make a full day out of town.  We are going to Cleveland Dam- meet at the public car park at 0930 hours and if we can get enough support we will repeat the very successful tree clinic which we held in 1972.

Members who want to make an all day outing should bring picnic lunch.


Mr. Stephen Mavi, Technical Assistant at the Herbarium led us on this walk to look at specimens in the Garden from a medicinal use view point.  He told us that of the thousands of flowering plants in this country approximately 500 are in use medicinally etc.

We looked first at the ordeal tree, Erythrophleum suaveolens, the bark of which is used as an emetic and used to be given to an accused person whose guilt or otherwise would be determined by how his body reacted to the poison.

Nearby was a specimen of Cassipourea gummiflua which has the unusual effect of creating sex change in chickens.

Rauvolfia caffra, sometimes called the Quinine tree, bark is used as infusion to help in hypertension.  Space does not permit mention of all the specimens examined but of our Highveld plants special mention should be made of Zanha africana used as a general panacea, and Ozoroa reticulata so prized as an aphrodisiac that the specimen we looked at in the Garden has had to be treated for damage.  The creeper Mondia whitei used as a general remedy and the young leaves may be boiled an eaten as relish.

The widely understood belief in the Gardenia species ability to ward off bolt lightning and effects of evildoers generally discussed and Mr. Mavi said that he was aware of no scientific properties in Gardenia which could account for the former.  Finally I should mention Kigelia africana the sausage tree, pods being used by Africans to treat tropical ulcers and white farmers have been known to use it to treat or prevent skin cancer.

Thank you Mr. Mavi for a very interesting talk and walk


Notes on the Tree Society outing to Strafford Farm, the property of Sue and Michael Vandoros on Sunday 16th September, 1979.

As usual at this time of year the msasas were putting on a beautiful display, they were seen almost all the way from Salisbury to Strafford Farm.

After a bus ride of about one hour we arrived at the entrance to Strafford Farm.  There was an attractive stone wall at the entrance which must have taken someone a long time to build. We left the bus on the road in the shade of a small pine plantation and walked down to the house where we were greeted by our hostess Sue Vandoros.  Lola Irvine introduced our hostess to us as the daughter of Frankie Bell.

Very soon thereafter we set off at varying paces on the path which wound up the hill behind the house.  We were told that we would be able to see Wedza Mountain from the top of the hill.  However I don’t know if anyone did, I certainly didn’t, I was so busy looking at trees and trying to collect tree seeds.  On this occasion seed of the following species was found, and the seed looked viable, Diospyros whyteana, Pleurostylia africana and Dombeya burgessiae.

The first tree we saw which was of special interest to me was Olinia vanguerioides which turned out to be quite widespread in the area we covered.  This was the first time I had seen this species.  The Diospyros whyteana seemed to have quite small leaves compared to the specimens I have seen further east in the country.

The dominant species in the area apart from the usual msasa, mnondo, mzhanje, Combretum, appeared to be Pittosporum viridiflorum, Rhus longipes, Apodytes dimidiata, Diospyros whyteana and Maytenus spp.

At the top of the hill behind the house we came across some enormous specimens of Euclea natalensis.  Erythrina latissima, Diospyros natalensis subsp. nummularia, Olinia vanguerioides and Celtis africana.  There were some quite good Bushman paintings on top of the hill in addition to the familiar loose granite walling.

 We returned to the house where we had our lunches on the lawn sitting on chairs or on the grass.  After lunch it looked as if almost everyone had decided to have a lazy Sunday afternoon.  However, we got going again and we explored the area on the opposite side of the house.  One of the first trees we came across had large numbers of small white berry like fruit some of which appeared to almost be 2 in 1.  It was finally decided that it was Pleurostylia africana after Meg Coates Palgrave had consulted Palgrave.  Later on we came across some other trees which looked similar in leaf to the Pleurostylia but the fruit were badly distorted so no decision was made as to their identity.

At about 1500 hours our hostess provided us with plenty of tea and an extremely generous supply of cakes.  After everyone had thanked Sue Vandoros for her hospitality we made our way back to the bus after a very enjoyable outing.

The trees seen on Strafford Farm included the following:  Albizia antunesiana; Azanza garckeana, Brachylaena rotundata, Brachystegia glaucescens, Brachystegia spiciformis, Canthium lactescens, Cassia singueana, Cassine aethiopica, Celtis africana, Combretum collinum, Combretum molle, Cussonia arborea, Cussonia spicata – or natalensis,  Dichrostachys cinerea, Diospyros natalensis subsp,  nummularia, Diospyros whyteana, Dombeya burgessiae, Dombeya zeyheri, Ekebergia benguelensis, Erythrina latissima, Erythroxylum emarginatum, Euclea crispa, Euclea natalensis, Euclea divinorum, Euphorbia ingens, Faurea saligna, Faurea speciosa, Ficus burkei/natalensis, Ficus capensis, Garcinia huillensis, Heteromorpha arborescens, Hymenodictyon floribundum, Iboza riparia, Indigohera globiflora, Lannea discolor, Maytenus heterophylla, Maytenus senegalensis, Maytenus undata, Ochna puberula, Olinia vanguerioides, Ozoroa reticulata, Parinari curatellifolia, Pavetta assimilis, Pavetta schumanniana, Phytolacca dodecandra (scrambling shrub), Pittosporum viridiflorum, Pleurostylia africana, Rhus longipes, Protea gaguedi, Rothmania fischeri, Steganotaenia araliacea, Strychnos spinosa,  Strychnos cocculoides,  Swartzia madagascariensis, Syzygium guineense, Tarenna neurophylla, Terminalia stenostachya, Turraea nilotica, Uapaca kirkiana, Vangueriopsis lanciflora, Vernonia amygdalina, Vernonia stipulaceae, Ximenia caffra


From the Ayshire   a press cutting from the English Journal “Countryman” and I quote part of the text:

“It is not just our landscape we are losing but much of our Wildlife habitat.  Do you want this beautiful country to become a desert?  The Woodland Trust needs your help.  Please join today, 50 p of your subscription will plant a tree in your name, the rest goes towards land purchase and woodland care.”

Compared to others perhaps our problem is not so bad after all.  We must ensure that our problem does not get so bad.

The Sunday News of 26.08.1979 reported that Bulawayo Municipality is to plant 300 000 gum trees in Hyde Park area.  The first 30  ha will be planted this year before the rains come.

Well, that’s a start – other local authorities, please note.

On 10th October 1979 the Jacaranda Queen planted at Stereospermum kunthianum,  pink Jacaranda, at the Civic Centre.  The Mayor, Councilor Whiting planted a msasa and members of the Lochinvar Women’s Clubs and Schools planted a further 12 different indigenous trees.

Great credit to the  City of Salisbury for getting down to it with Mrs. Penny van der Linden of the Salisbury Publicity Association and Mr. John Chambwe, Chairman of the Zimbabwe Miti Association, and arranging  this gesture.  It just shows that Municipalities are not always as sluggish and hog tied with RED TAPE as we usually tend to think.

Mr. Anton Ellert provided the trees from his nursery.

In a future newsletter we will provide a list of the trees planted, meanwhile if members would like to go and have a look at these trees they are at the South end of the lawn in front of the Museum and close to the School of Music.  There were already established specimens of Crabia and Cussonia and Anton’s 14 young trees have been planted around these two.  In years to come I think this little grove will provide an interesting place to go and visit and will be a living monument to the 1979 Jacaranda Festival and the officials responsible.

Those representatives of what we conclude would be the natural climax vegetation in the absence of fire – say Celtis, Khaya plus the Brachystegia should be there very easily for the next ten centuries so it is up to us to watch over them for the next ten years or so to make sure that some future less enlightened municipal authority does not “chuck them out” in favour of some more ‘conventional’ horticultural population.

One last point on this, we do sincerely hope that this ‘gesture’ will be followed by the large scale tree planting on the Commonage which we have been promised by the Mayor.


On Sunday 7th October 1979 we visited Kalanyoni, fortunes Gate Road, a 34 acre plot in typical granite country recently selected for its natural vegetation by an ecologically enthusiastic Lionel Reynolds.  In a matter of 2.5 hours we identified some 70 species, labeled some and extended the owner’s already extensive catalogue.  Noted was a specimen of Schotia brachypetala, possibly introduced, as it is not found in this district, and from a kopje vantage, glimpses of Bulawayo through fine vistas of Pterocarpus angolensis in full bloom.  Mrs. Reynolds kindly provided tea for which we were grateful, hot day!!


At long last the above nonprofit making company has been launched and readers will have seen details in the Press.  Mrs. Catherine Curry is our official Tree Society representative on the Council.  For the benefit of members who have not been ‘privileged’ to have been involved in the long negations which have preceded the formal advent of the limited company I think this is a good time to re-state the Tree Society attitude to the Woodlands.

The Makabusi Woodlands must continue to remain what it is, i.e. natural Parinari/Brachystegia Woodland all people use, both for recreation and conservation education must be subordinate to this.  In saying this we do not wish it to be construed that the people’s use is unimportant, it is paramount but it must be conservation education within the context of natural Highveld woodland.

The Tree Society is not particularly concerned about the siting of and type of Interpretive Services Centre so long as the first principal of Woodland Conservation is observed and we fully back the environmental plan frame work created by Dr. Tom Choate and his subcommittee a few years back.

We do not see the need for any deliberate recreational facilities to be created in the Woodlands, these can all be made on the River strip elsewhere.  If a small dam is to be built on the river within the woodlands it should be for conservation education people use only.  If a dam is wanted for recreational use, and quite clearly there is a good case for such it should be on the Makabusi downstream from the woodlands.


Mr. E.B. Best’s article on gums was warmly received and Miss Isobel McCalman of Essexvale has written as follows :

“Mr. Best speaks about the WHY being a protective response to wounding; but having been aware of this edible gum, (sindebele – inhlaga), for several years now I have kept a watchful eye on the exudation of such gum, during the course of my ethno-botanical investigations.

My small farm is in a schist belt with intrusions of epi-diorite so I only have a few trees of Acacia karroo to watch, and these are in the vicinity of the intrusion or red belt.

My observations are that (1) the gum is exuded only by Acacia karroo and not by A. nilotica, A. rehmanniana, A. sieberiana or A. robusta. and (2) that the gum of A. karroo has an ethnic value to local African groups as a form of sweet substance enjoyed by the younger children  I have not discovered that the gum has been used in the area for any other purpose.”

Space only permits me to include this small portion of Miss McCalman’s letter here, as an illustration of what useful work our Society can do, we will come back to this subject in the future and will be pleased to receive observations from other readers.



Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter November 1979


Mr. Drummond led us to look at trees currently in flower, of special interest to me was Combretum mossambicensis, when examined closely the bloom is a delightful arrangement of red and white, it flowers at a low height and in a good year can cover miles of low country with its white carpet.  Many more trees in flower, too many to mention were seen, the walk showed just how decorative and variable our indigenous flowering trees can be.


Some 30 members and guests assembled at the car park and immediately we started to walk and were rewarded with the most beautiful sight, and scent, of Swartzia madagascariensis in flower.  Several trees in full flower provided a spectacle never to be forgotten.

We then divided into two groups with Mrs. Gill Masterson displaying her universal ability in providing instruction to our members, while the other group went on ahead under the joint leadership of Anton Ellert and Meg Coates Palgrave.  With the permission of the water bailiff, this group went out of the public part of the grounds and moved some way up the lake shore and we were pleased to find that a type of riverine fringe is developing with good regeneration of Syzygium cordatum, the river water berry.

We found ourselves debating this subject of a forest fringe along our Lake shores generally.  It seems that as the artificial lake shore of dams is a new environment to our natural vegetation individual species may need time to adapt.  Members commented that judicious management might speed up this natural process and we felt  the Cleveland Dam could now be a good example of this if the responsible authorities could get down to it.  After a pleasant picnic lunch we returned to the lake shore and got as far as the end of the developed lake shore fringe when the rain started.

Before we got wet we examined the flourishing colonies of Ficus verruculosa, the dwarf fig and on rocks close to the water’s edge some fine Brachystegia glaucescens, the mountain redwood or mountain acacia.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Society will be held in February and I would like to take this opportunity to remind members that in terms of the constitution resolutions for the AGM must be received 21 days or more before the meeting.  We live in times of great change and so change to our little society is inevitable.  The greatest change which is always with us is the rapidly diminishing value of money, and naturally I am leading up to the fact that in 1980 we will have to again consider the need to increase our subs.  At our AGM a few years ago Mr. Jack Reid very sagely suggested that the actual amount of the annual subs should not be listed in the constitution but left to the discretion of the executive committee.

The question of a possible change of name is also a matter needing possible amendment to the constitution.  There may be need in the future to consider further changes to our types of membership, for example, we presently have no corporate members, if we received any such applications I presume such could be accepted as ordinary members, but it may be prudent to provide corporate membership.  What I am trying to illustrate here is that your executive committee would prefer to receive resolutions from the membership on any changes needed to our constitution and have such debated at the AGM.


Mrs. Peggy Izzett has written as follows :

“It was a coincidence that just when the October Tree Society Newsletter arrived I was reading a little book called “Mlimo – the rise and fall of the Matabele” by ‘Mziki’ – A. A. Campbell, who was a Native Commissioner and was stationed at Fort Rixon.  The writer mentions a “weather beaten patriarch of a baobab tree” in the Matopos, near the cave in which the Mlimo was said to live.  I have no map of the Matopos, and do not know where this cave would be, but perhaps the Bulawayo branch members know of this tree – if it is still there.  Campbell’s journey when he saw the tree was in 1897.

The publisher of this Books of Rhodesia edition of the book which I have says in his Introduction, “The purist will point out that baobab trees are not found in the Matopos, but if there is a baobab near Khami there could be one in the Matopos”.  It would be interesting to know whether it is still there.

Another member tells me that there is a large solitary Baobab about 30km out of Que Que on the Umvuma road well above the “Baobab contour”.


To add to George Hall’s list of “solitary baobabs” is the one which grows on Mr. and Mrs. Railton’s property, Khamera, which adjoins the Khami Ruins area, west of Bulawayo.  This is a tree which is of enormous size and great antiquity.

Growing in the vicinity of this great tree are a number of specimens of Erythrophysa transvaalensis.  These, with some found in the Gwanda area by Ted Bullock many years ago, are the only specimens in Rhodesia.  They occur in Western Transvaal, and nowhere else in Southern Africa.

These two “loners” growing side by side, prompt one to speculate on how they arrived.  Khamera was set aside as Lobengula’s private hunting area.  There are many interesting relics found there, shards, portions of wall, rock paintings, “tsoro” holes gouged out of rocks, and one wonders whether this has always been a special area and had many visitors from afar.

Our September outing was organized by Charles Sykes out at Glenville.  He took us to an area which has been considerably cut out, a process which is continuing but it was interesting to note that the Kirkia acuminata, of which there were many, were untouched.  From there we were taken to the motor racing tract, to a small stretch of woodland which, being insider the fence, had not been cut.  Most of the trees are still bare and it was a challenging exercise to identify them with so little to guide one.  We were interested to see a large number of Steganotaenia araliacea, many in flower.


At the above exhibition held this year in Bulawayo, our Bulawayo Chairman Miss Webber and Mr. C. Wigg had to spend an enormous amount of time before they could satisfactorily locate and assess all tree exhibits and it was finally decided to split the Tree Society prize of $40 into 4 prizes of $10 each.  The winners were :

  1. Esbe, Justin and Vision of Sizane School, Bulawayo for their project on the manufacture of rubber from the latex of trees in the school vicinity. They had unsuccessfully attempted to visit Dunlop    The judges recommended that they go ahead with this project.
  2. Cox of Chaplin School, Gwelo, for a study of South African Erythrinas with emphasis on parasitism by insects, – one a moth 2mm in size, not yet successfully identified.
  3. Gardiner of CBC Bulawayo, whose main prize is written up in the September Science News. Our prize was granted because of his information on several local trees, one of which produces a stable and highly rated wood.
  4. Nyandoro of Fletcher High School, Gwelo, for an exhibit giving the ecology of Maytenus senegalensis which, though not of economic value was a thorough study, and very interesting.

GEORGE HALL  President 


Tree Society of Rhodesia Newsletter December 1979


Once again our walk took us to see trees and shrubs currently in flower.  Albizia gummifera was just past its prime, but still a fine display.  Mr. Drummond pointed out to us that in the middle of the flower head there was one “sterile” bloom without the red stamina tube.  Combretum mossambicense which we saw in flower last month was now in decorative red unripe fruit, some of which had 5 wings unlike most Combretums.  Most striking, and so unusual in appearance that it would not be out of place in science fiction was Strophanthus kombe with long thread like corolla lobes.  Another unusual tree seen was Xylia torreana, of the MIMOSACEAE, having its leaves two pinnate with a large gland at the junction of the pinnae.  Found below 300 m Mr. Drummond said this was an emergent from jesse bush.


Thirty four members and guests almost filled the bus that took us to Excelsior and Cyreniaca Farms on the Hunyani River downstream from Darwendale.  We first went to a broken piece of granite country going up 200 feet above the densely farmed surrounding sandveld plain.  Our bus took us to the base of the feature named Mkoromokwa at 4200 feet altitude, and from there Mr. Trevor Gordon led us on an energetic hike up the gentle gradients.

Whilst fire had gone through the kopje, recent good rain made the veld green and lush and our recording team of Mrs. Masterson, Mrs. Coates Palgrave and Mr. Ellert aided and advised by the expert knowledge of Mr. Drummond recorded 85 species on the kopje.

Out of their usual habitat on the kopje were Bequaertiodendron magalismontanum and Mimusops zeyheri.  The former, the stem fruit was seen in flower and the latter the red milkwood, Mr. Gordon said may in fact have been planted on the hill for the benefit of its fruits, by some previous residents.

Of considerable note was the large size of Monotes glaber, specimens over 50’ high being present.

It was interesting to see Commiphora mossambicensis as well as C. marlothii and C. mollis, and to catch all in full leaf which is of course not very possible during our dry season field trips.

Many fine Albizia tanganyicensis were seen some with clean boles and others in their full ‘peeling bark’ glory.

Ximenia caffra was seen in full fruit and some members and guests learnt a very important lesson, not to bite into the skin, this is the most bitter part, one must peel off and discard the skin and then try the flesh which is very refreshing when you are dry and thirsty.

The undergrowth on the kopje was also very interesting, the pale pink and white Gerbera, wild barbetan daisy was attractive, viridifolia in flower, groups of Aloe christiana, on short stocky trunks promises to benefit from the recent fire.  Vigorous Disscorea dumeterum has grown rapidly since the fire.

For our picnic lunch we went down to the Hunyani and were glad of the shade afforded by the Syzygium growth along the river’s edge.  (My omission of the specific name there is deliberate).

Along the river strip our recorders notched up a further 20 species plus some already seen in the morning.  Securinega virosa was in full flower and butterflies and other insects were enjoying a field day, there were even more of them on the blossoms than there were Tree Society members around the bush.  Nuxia oppositifolia was also in flower.

It was of general interest to note the change that has come over this river because of the dams upstream having largely tamed the floods.  A very interesting day’s outing and our gratitude goes to Messrs Boshoff and Strauss and our hosts for the day, Rosemary and Stan Lombard.  Also a special vote of thanks to Trevor Gordon for arranging  the day and leading us on our expedition.


I owe two apologies for bad reporting in last month’s newsletter.  First, I omitted to name the lovely Jacaranda Queen – she is, of course, Miss Kelly Wakefield.  Second whilst Anton Ellert raised the young Stereospermum that Kelly was so delightfully planting, the seed was gathered by Leonore Phillips from a tree at Sebakwe Dam, a good example of Tree Society co-operative effort.

The list of trees planted at the Civic Centre on 10 October 1979 is :

Khaya nyasica – Mt Selinda Big Tree                                       Rhus lancea – karee boom

Celtis africana – white stinkwood                                             Stereospermum kunthianum – pink jacaranda

Kirkia acuminata – umvumira                                                    Brachystegia spiciformis – musasa

Julbernardia globiflora – mnondo                                            Ficus capensis – Cape fig

Acacia polyacantha – white thorn                                           Dichrostachys cinerea – Chinese lantern

Syzygium cordatum – river water berry                                 Trichilia dregeana – white mahogany

Cordia africana                                                                                 Rauvolfia caffra

 I had a look at these trees a few days ago and all are well but for the mnondo.  When we were planting these trees on 10th October I looked at the waste ground beyond the car park.  There are vigorous colonies of the dwarf Elephantorrhiza.  If any of our readers are in contact with the local nyangas, perhaps they could persuade these practitioners to leave alone these plants within the Makabusi Woodlands and concentrate on getting their raw material from these colonies on the waste land.

The formerly robust communities in the Makabusi Woodlands have been so completely devastated by muti  gatherers they are reduced to only a few surviving sticks, but if left alone immediately the beds will ultimately recover.

Using the expression “wasteland” a few lines ago poses the question, why does the undeveloped portion of the Civic Centre have to be “waste”.  Why is there such an abrupt boundary line between the parkland and the wasteland, why can the whole not be subjected to landscaping?  The planners must have a good idea of the exact location of future buildings and the bits between which are always going to be open space could be planted now with representatives of climax vegetation.  The land which is going to be built on could likewise be planted with more ephemeral vegetation.


As I indicated last month we will be looking for a proposal at the forthcoming AGM for the constitution to be changed to permit your executive committee to decide the annual subscription instead of fixing the amount within the Constitution.

As things are at the moment I hope to recommend to the committee that there is no need to increase subscriptions for 1980.  But this will only be possible if members renew their 1980 subs early in the year.  In 1979 we had several members, too many, resign after the end of the 1st quarter – they did not pay 1979 subs and so your Society had to bear the cost of publications for a few months in each case.


On Sunday 4th November 1979 a most enjoyable outing was held in the Matopos when so many of the trees were in new leaf.  The “recce” party of a week before had seen an Ochna macrocalyx in full flower but when we saw it not a blossom was to be found, only a week later.  One Pterocarpus rotundifolius was in early bloom, the full glory of these comes in December/January.  A large tree caused some discussion and argument, but eventually everyone decided that it could only be a Diospyros mespiliformis.  The Colophospermum mopane were at their loveliest in new spring leaf.

Mrs. Peggy Izzett’s request for information about the “weather beaten patriarch of a baobab tree” near the cave in which Mlimo was said to live will have to go unanswered for the present.  The cave is probably on Njelele, a hill which, in the past, we have refrained from visiting out of respect for the people in the Khumalo TTL and which now it would be unwise to visit.  We hope that, in the not too distant future, we shall once again be able to wander freely in that lovely area.















































Euphorbia halipedicola. Photo: Bart Wursten. Source: Flora of Zimbabwe