August 2018



Saturday August 4th Botanic Gardens Walk. Meet in the car park at 8.30am.  The weather may be warming up a bit by then and there maybe signs of Spring in the gardens.

Sunday August 19thOuting to Tsindi Ruins, just beyond Marondera:  The msasas will be just coming into leaf and it should be a pretty day.  Bring a picnic lunch, chair, hat, sunblock etc. and we will meet at Mukuvisi Woodlands car park at 8.00am to share lifts.

Directions for those travelling separately:  From Harare pass through Marondera and from the Peterhouse Boys entrance drive 7.5 km  until you see a big sign on the right saying National Monuments Tsindi Ruins.  There is also a large sign for Marondera University on the left and a sign to the Bernard Mzeki shrine.  Turn LEFT here, cross the railway line, pass Davis Granite and after +/- 10 kms pass the Bernard Mzeki shrine on the right.  Soon afterwards there is a sign for Tsindi ruins on the right.  Meet at the entrance to the ruins at 9.30am.

Saturday August 25th:  Visit to Harare Gardens.  Meet in the Park Lane car park at 14.30.  Directions: Coming from Samora Machel on Julius Nyerere Ave, pass the National Gallery on the left and turn left into Park Lane.  Proceed a short way along Park Lane until you see the gate into the Gardens on the left.  Enter and park in the car park.  Ignore the notice on the gate about making a payment.



OUTING TO HIPPO POOLS 20-22nd APRIL (cont’d) Saturday 21st April 2018

Our group was led by Meg and Simba. We set off by car to look at trees away from the river in the drier area.

The first tree to catch our attention was Phyllanthus engleri, Spurred Potato-bush, a small tree branching from the ground, the branchlets emerge from spurs about 2 cm, thickset and spiny, resembling galls. The single leaves are closely, alternately arranged along a 30 cm long stem from which we saw fruit, round and about 4 cm in diameter.

Commiphora glandulosa, Tall Firethorn Corkwood. Tall, single-stemmed, with a rounded twiggy crown. Bark yellow-green or grey-green, flaking in yellow papery pieces, branchlets hairless, spine tipped. Leaves, clustered on spur branchlets, sometimes trifoliate with two tiny lateral leaflets. The fruit is round, 10mm, hairless, with four equal lobes.

Diospyros kirkii, Large-leaved Jackal-berry. Small tree with a round crown, often a contorted bole. Bark grey-black, very rough, flaking in square sections. Leaves, spirally arranged, dull green. Fruit, round 4 cm in diameter, yellow to orange. Seeds 3-4 brown. The fruit is delicious.

Dalbergiella nyasae, Mane-pod, bark vertically fissured, leaves spirally arranged crowded at the ends of branches, giving the tree an untidy appearance. The striking mauve flowers can be profuse in September. The pod is distinctive, about 7 cm long with dense, brown hairs edging the pod.

Combretum hereroense, Mouse-eared Combretum, is a small tree with the branches often arching, leaves grey green above and covered with brown hairs below, giving the tree a brown appearance. The 4-winged fruit is about 2×2 cm, a dark red brown. We saw it in the two-toned stage, brown in the centre and golden edged wings.

Combretum adenogonium, Four-leaved Bush Willow. Bark grey with longitudinal fissures or flakes. Leaves in whorls of three or four, I noticed mostly in whorls of three. Leaves are about 11 cm x 4 cm. The autumn leaves are conspicuously red, orange, or maroon.

Pavetta schumanniana, Poison Brides-bush, a small tree among rocks, we noted the bacterial nodules in the leaves that are dot shaped and dark. It has white flowers, strongly scented, which can be seen Sept-Feb. The leaves are poisonous to stock.

Euclea divinorum, Magic Guarri. A small tree, bark smooth, grey and roughened with lenticels. Leaves are opposite to sub opposite about 7×2 cm, widest in the middle, hairless and dark green with pronounced wavy edges. The wood is thought to have supernatural powers so is not used as fuel. The branches are effective to beat out fires.

Cissus cornifolia, Ivy-grape. A shrub growing from a tuberous, fire resistant root. This is the family Vitaceae so the stems have swollen nodes like grape vines. The first two lateral veins on the leaf start as a pair at the base, these leaves have a strong smell when crushed.

Turraea nilotica, Miombo Honeysuckle-tree. A small tree about 2-4m. Bark grey, smooth, rough with age. Leaves are large, 16x10cm and covered with short hairs. The leaves will not lie flat, as though a thread has been pulled through the midrib. Flowers are green, turning yellow, in clusters along young branches. The fruit is a round woody capsule, which splits revealing black seeds with a red aril.

Colophospermum mopane, Mopane. A large tree, up to 18 m, covering great areas of southern Africa in hot low-lying areas. Leaves are bifoliolate, the two leaflets without stalks and between the pair is a vestigial leaflet (the remains of a third terminal leaflet), possibly lost over time to lessen moisture evaporation as the climate dries. There is a small swelling on the petiole at the base, the pulvinus, which may help to orientate the leaf to turn from the direct sun to lessen evaporation. Sometimes at midday a mopane grove with its leaves at an oblique angle to the sun will cast no shade.

Crossopteryx febrifuga, Crystal-bark. A small tree up to 6m, occurring in dry deciduous woodland on sandy soils. The bark is pale grey, scaly, flaking in squares. The leaves are densely velvety, with net veining conspicuous below. At this time of year it was in fruit, an ovoid capsule about 10 mm with a distinctive ring around the apex, splitting into two valves. The seed, small 4 mm long, is a thin flat oval with a hair-fringed margin. If the dry bark is stripped, crystals can be seen on the inner surface.

Acacia gerrardii, Grey-haired Acacia. Red Thorn. A small tree up to 8m with a sparse crown. Bark dark grey or red, branchlets can peel to reveal rusty red bark. The spines are short, curved and stout. Leaves are tightly clustered around the branches. The flowers, white balls, open from Oct-Feb. It has a narrow sickle-shaped pod that is covered with grey hairs.

Acacia goetzei, Purple-Pod Acacia. A medium sized tree up to 15 m tall. Bark brown or grey and rough. Spines are strong, downward hooked and black, in pairs below the nodes. Leaves have 5 – 10 pairs of pinnae, each with up to 23 pairs of leaflets, usually asymmetric at the base. Prickles are present under the rachis. Flowers are cream- white spikes up to 12 cm long. The fruit is a straight pod about 18 cm long, purplish brown, the surface veined.

Commiphora mossambicensis, Pepper-leaved Corkwood.  This small deciduous tree was all over the dry woodland and conspicuous as the autumn leaves were bright yellow. The smooth bark grey flakes in squares and if the surface is scratched it is green. These trees are leafless for many months so perhaps the branches photosynthesise in their place.

Ficus abutilifolia, Large-leaved Rock Fig. This tree is found growing on rocks, as we saw. It had split the rock and the white roots were growing over it to get to the soil. Leaves are large, almost round, wider than long, and can be up to 19×20 cm, with a lobed base and wavy margin. Petiole 14 cm long. We saw single figs in the axils of leaves.

In the afternoon we met to walk down the Mazowe River towards the weir, with Meg leading.

Dalbergia melanoxylon, Ebony Dalbergia. A straggling tree, many stemmed. The bark is grey and smooth, on old trees the bark peels and flakes and there are spines. It is also recognised by the small round leaflets clustered along spinescent branchlets. The heartwood is pleasantly scented and purple, turning black, which is valued for making trinkets.

Dalbergia nitidula, Purplewood Dalbergia. A slender tree up to 7m in height. The bark is grey-brown, rough and fissured. The leaves have about seven pairs of leaflets and a terminal one, can be 5 x 2 cm, grey green. What makes this tree recognisable is the profusion of flat, thin pods, green turning brown.

Zanha africana, Velvet-fruit Zanha. A medium sized tree up to 10 m. The bark is dark brown, scaly, flaking and leaves are compound, up to 15 cm long, paripinnate, leathery, net-veining obvious, velvet hairs below as with the petiole and rachis, covered in hairs. The ovoid fruit is 3 x 2 cm, velvety, bright orange. The fruits are thought to be poisonous, but I have eaten them many times.

Dalbergia arbutifolia, Climbing Dalbergia. A small shrub, often climbing with its coiled branches. Bark grey brown, ridged, flaking in small pieces. Leaves, compound, rachis up to 15 cm with 17 leaflets with the margins turned under, and a terminal leaflet. The leaflets can be sub-opposite at the bottom, measure 4 x 2 cm. The seedpod can be 15 cm long, veined and rough, with 1-2 seeds.

Garcinia buchananii, Granite mangosteen. A small tree, many branched, with grey-brown rough bark and a sticky yellow sap present. Leaves are leathery, oblong and shiny dark green. The fruit is round, 2.5cm, fleshy, orange and edible.

Diospyros mespiliformis, Jackal-berry, African Ebony. This can be a large tree with a dense dark crown, frequently along rivers. The bark is black, rough with deep furrows, while the young branchlets and leaves are pink. The fruit is round, 2,5 cm with 3-6 seeds which have been noted in jackal dung, hence the name.

Stereospermum kunthianum, Pink Jacaranda. Along the river path we saw many of these young plants, but above at the swimming pool area there were large, tall trees. Unmistakable with the smooth grey flaking bark leaving paler grey under bark. There were other large specimens in the camp, the biggest I have seen.

Vangueria infausta, Wild Medlar. A small tree occurring over a wide area. Bark is grey, smooth becoming rough and ridged, and it has robust branchlets covered in hairs.  Leaves are densely hairy on both surfaces. It produces greenish white flowers and round fruit 3.5cm diameter. This can be confused with Vangueriopsis lanciflora but that has paler green leaves.

Strychnos potatorum, Grape Strychnos. A small tree with heavy foliage. Leaves markedly veined from the base, 3-7 veined, veins paler, curving toward but not reaching the apex. Fruit round, 2 cm, fleshy, black. The seeds are said to purify water if they are rubbed inside the container, making the impurities gather on top of the water. Possibly the name ‘potatorum’ derives from making the water potable.

Strychnos innocua, Powder-bark Monkey-orange. Small straight stemmed tree. Bark light or grey, smooth, powder and rubbing off, branches unarmed. Leaves, leathery, bluish green, 5-veined just above the base. Flowers, greenish yellow. Fruit, round 7cm in diameter, woody shell, bluish, remaining on the tree, turning yellow. Up to 50 seeds are contained in edible pulp.

Kirkia acuminata, Kirkia. This medium deciduous tree is found on rocks as it is not fire tolerant. Bark is grey and smooth, becoming flaky. Leaves are a distinctive golden colour in autumn and are among the first to turn. We saw this species everywhere as this is widespread – the hills across the Mazowe were dotted with this golden foliage. The leaves are compound, 10 leaflet pairs and a terminal one. Leaflets taper to a long point (acuminate). Flowers are creamy in lax heads about 7cm long. Fruit is a thin woody capsule, staying on the tree into the following season.

Ormocarpum kirkii. Curled Caterpillar-pod. A shrub, its long branches are a feature. Bark is rough and scaly. Leaves are clustered on the branchlets, 13 pairs of leaflets and a terminal leaflet. The edges of leaves are tightly rolled under. The fruits were small hairy pods still enveloped in the dry petals.

Diospyros senensis, Spiny Jackal-berry. A rigid spiny shrub that has many spiny trunks with a fluted appearance. Bark is grey but when it flakes there is smooth cream under-bark. This is such a feature of the Mana Pools flood plain.

Euclea schimperi, River Guarri. A shrub with  grey, smooth bark. Leaves are spirally arranged at the ends of branches, four times as long as wide, leathery, shiny, and hairless. The leaves of E. schimperi resemble E. divinorum.

Lecaniodiscus fraxinifolius, the River-litchi. A medium tree with dense foliage, growing along riverine fringes. Bark is dark grey and rough. Leaves are spirally arranged, up to 30cm long with seven pairs of leaflets. Flowers form in racemes about 10cm long. Sexes are separate on different trees. These trees are damaged by browsers.

Grewia bicolor, White-leaved Grewia. A many-stemmed shrub with grey, smooth bark when young, but dark grey, fissured and peeling in strips later. Leaves are held horizontally, three veined from the base. Dull or shiny green above, almost white with silvery hairs below. Margin finely toothed.

Strychnos spinosa, Spiny monkey-orange. A small tree with grey, rough bark, flaking in squares. Branchlets are deeply ringed at the nodes, with curved spines. Leaves are in pairs, or threes, almost circular, 3-5-veined from just above the base, glossy above, paler below. Sometimes sounding boxes for the mbira can be made from large shells of the fruit. This species is similar to S. cocculoides.

Combretum apiculatum, Glossy Combretum. A medium-sized tree. Bark grey to brownish, smooth but becoming rough and deeply fissured with age. Five to seven pairs of lateral veins on the leaves resemble the rungs of a ladder. Distinguishing features are transparent scales and hair-tuft domatia on the under-surface of leaves.

Friesodielsia obovata, Dwaba-berry. Monkey-fingers. A small tree inclined to scramble. Bark is dark grey, sometimes with grey patches of lichen. The blue-green leaves are simple, varying in size on the same bush. Flowers are cream to greenish yellow. Fruit has 3-9 separate carpels up to 7cm long, constricted between the seeds, red and edible.

Artabotrys brachypetalus, Purple hook-berry. A climber that is strong and woody, climbing with the help of distinctive curling flower stalks which hook around the branches of trees.  The C-shaped stalks are ingenious and will imbed  themselves in another tree.

Sunday Morning: A drive towards the Umfurudzi river led by Meg and Simba

Balanites aegyptiaca, Single-thorned torchwood. This was a large spreading tree with dark brown-grey bark, cracking into square flakes. Branches are stiff and greenish with stout green to yellow spines. Leaflets are held in pairs, 2-5 x 1-3cm, green and leathery. Flowers are greenish white. The fruit is elongated, up to 5 cm long, turning red as we saw them. The fruit soaked in water is effective to kill snails.

Growing right besides and through this Balanites was a large Sterculia africana, the Tick-tree. Bark smooth, silver white, greenish brown and maroon, peeling to show a marbled underbark. Leaves, simple, crowded at the branch ends divided into 5 lobes, olive-green, 7-veined from the base, and furry. Flowers are greenish yellow. Fruit has two, sometimes three large follicles, 15cm long, furry on the outside, with a sharp beak   This splits open and is edged with nasty bristles that can cause great irritation. Seeds, about 2cm, are blue grey with red at one end, looking like an engorged tick.

Right next to S. africana was Sterculia quinqueloba, this one quite a large tree with beautiful white to pinkish brown bark.  Leaves are similar to S. africana, but more deeply divided into five lobes. The fruit has five separate follicles each 6×3 cm covered in golden hairs, each follicle splitting down one side. Seeds are black, attached to the rim of the follicle, also with irritating hairs.

There was also a Commiphora mossambicensis in the mix, making a great display of yellow gold colours of Autumn.

Albizia versicolor, Poison-pod Albizia. A medium to large tree, the bark brown to black in old trees. Leaves are compound like all Albizia, but leaflets are larger and covered in rusty hairs, not the deep green of the Eastern Highland Albizias. Fruit forms in large pods, which can be profuse and cover the tree in red. At the year end, when grazing is sparse, these pods fall in the wind and farmers lose many cattle and sheep on such occasions having eaten these poisonous pods.

Pterocarpus rotundifolius and P. brenanii. These trees were abundant and easily recognisable with their apple green, large leaves, especially P. brenanii with large, conspicuous stipules clasping the stem. Fruit of P. brenanii is larger than P. rotundifolius and unlike P. angolensis where the distinctive pod has the seed case covered in bristles.

We parked the cars by the river and saw a sapling with attractive compound leaves.  After discussion we saw a large specimen and spied pods away at the top, which told us it was Xeroderris stuhlmannii, which is found in hot dry areas. Bark is grey-brown and flaking, and will exude blood red resin when cut. It has imparipinnate leaves spirally arranged at ends of branches, with 15 sub-opposite leaflets giving the appearance of folding upwards. Flowers are white, in sprays up to 20 cm long. Fruit is pods up to 16 cm long, flattened, swollen over the seed.

Antidesma venosum, Tassel-berry. A shrub, bark is grey brown, smooth. Leaves leathery, bright glossy green, paler and hairy below. Fruit, small, white becoming red, finally black, in long spikes.

Grewia flavescens, Donkeyberry. A scrambling shrub, widespread.  Bark grey brown, larger branches fluted. Leaves rough hairs on both sides, margin toothed. Flowers, yellow, 2 cm in diameter.  Fruit, 2-4 lobed 10 mm in diameter.

Mimusops zeyheri, Red-milkwood. A medium tree with spreading crown. Bark is grey brown or blackish, smooth in young trees. Leaves, are thick, leathery, shiny green above, paler below, the young leaves with rusty hairs. The pleasant tasting fruit is ovoid and yellow, with a persistent calyx and contains vitamin C. These are the trees in Great Zimbabwe enclosure.

Gymnosporia senegalensis, Confetti spikethorn. This is a well distributed shrub with light grey smooth bark, the young branches sometimes armed with spines 7 cm long. Leaves are spirally arranged, leathery, pale blue-green with a grey bloom. Flowers, which are short-lived and fall while fresh-looking like confetti, are cream to greenish white, sweetly scented and produced in profusion. Fruit is a two-lobed capsule.

Allophylus africanus, African false-currant. A shrub with grey brown bark but the stems are almost white. The leaves are trifoliate and the lateral leaflets smaller than the terminal one, and have a toothed margin and hair-tuft domatia in axils of veins. Flowers occur in green-white spikes up to 26 cm. The fruit is red on long spikes.

Terminalia sericea, Silver Terminalia. A tree up to 6m or more in height, is widespread and conspicuous with the silver leaves. The bark is dark grey with deep vertical fissures, twigs peeling and the leaves are clustered on tips of slender branchlets with pale grey, silvery hairs. Flowers are small and cream with an unpleasant smell. Fruit is pink to red, and remains on the tree until the following flowering.

Next we saw Combretum elaeagnoides, Grey jesse-bush. A small, straggling tree common in the Zambezi valley, that can be troublesome with its vigorous re-growth. This was on the edge of the Umfurudzi river. The leaves of the undersurface paler than the upper. Silvery scales on both surfaces that we saw through a lens, as though dotted with a ball point pen. It flowers between September and January and in the Zambezi Valley can be a spectacular profusion, of creamy, round heads with the new leaves. 4-winged fruit can still be seen on the bush with next seasons flowers.

Capparis sepiaria, the hedge caper-bush, a spiny scrambler with long arching branches. The bark is green, becoming brown with pairs of sharp downward spines either side of each leaf.

Entada chrysostachys, the Zambezi Entada. The leaves have 3-5 pairs of pinnae each with up to 17 pairs of leaflets and the pods are up to 45×10 cm. We saw it climbing with long green pods clearly showing the one seeded sections which break up transversely leaving the rims hanging.

I always wondered where the huge seeds 4 x 6 cm found on Mozambique beaches, came from. I learnt that it is from Entada rheedii washed from inland to the sea.

Lannea schweinfurthii, False-marula. This is the large tree that anchors the swing bridge on the boma side of the stream. The one we saw was smaller, had attractive light brown bark which was flaking with cream underbark. It has 1-5 pairs of leaflets with a terminal one, almost circular, lateral leaflets smaller than the terminal one. Fresh pale green leaves, shiny, turning yellow before they fall. The flowers are creamy, in loose spikes. This can be confused with Sclerocarya birrea but the latter species has bark that looks mottled and has more leaflets and branchlets which are stubby and stout.

On the way back there was a beautiful spot at the base of a kopje with Brachystegia glaucescens, Mountain-acacia, with large green leafed aloes amongst the rocks. As we were admiring these beautiful trees and the bark flaking in round discs with yellowish patches underneath, we thought the leaves of some of the trees were not B. glaucescens. The leaves were not as blue green and there were less leaflets and bigger than B. glaucescens. We concluded that it was probably B. utilis. We noted later at the dam another B. utilis, with a leafy stipule at the base of the petiole. Stipules may function as protection for the leaf bud.

On Sunday afternoon a small group with Meg and Mark went up towards the dam above the boma.

Combretum zeyheri, the Large-leaved Bush willow. This is a wide ranging tree tolerating many soil types. The bark is brown, grey, smooth with fine fissures, branches seeming to droop. The leaves are clustered, large, 16×10 cm, held in whorls of three, with entire margin, and are wavy. The fruit are 4-winged, large and conspicuous. It is called ‘raasblaar’ in Afrikaans due to the sound the leaves and fruit make in the wind.

Albizia zimmermannii, Woodland long-pod. This is a medium tree, with a flat spreading crown, grey brown, smooth bark. The leaves have 7 pairs of pinnae, each with up to 15 pairs of leaflets. Petiole and rachis with rusty, furry hair. And the flowers have small fluffy heads with pink stamens. Pods are 32 x 7 cm, red, brown when dry.

Canthium glaucum, Pink-fruit Canthium is a multi stemmed shrub. The bark is light to dark grey, branches long with straight spines, 2 cm long above spur branchlets. The leaves are gathered on spur branchlets. The flowers are very small, whitish green. Fruit, is almost square on slender stalks.

Euphorbia cooperi var. Calidicola, is a spiny succulent, candelabra shaped, up 7 m tall and is  found on rocky outcrops. The trunk is bare and up to 3 m, with round holes where old branches have fallen.  Branchlets 3- 4-angled,  are constricted to form heart shaped segments.  Var. calidicola has larger segments than var. cooperi, with thin wings, about 3mm at the ridge.

Monodora junodii, Green-apple is a shrub with smooth grey bark and the leaves are simple and alternate. It has solitary flowers on leafless spur branchlets, which are butterfly like. The fruit is leathery, ovoid, many seeded with a hard shell.

Markhamia zanzibarica, Bell-bean; this is a small tree with grey, vertically flaking bark, and the young branches have lenticels. The leaves have 2 – 4 pairs of leaflets and a terminal one. The flowers are yellow densely flecked with maroon, tube 3 cm long, spreading to 4 cm in diameter. The fruit is a long, narrow, flat pod, splitting with papery, winged seeds.

Tetradenia riparia, Ginger-bush, A shrub. Bark light grey. Leaves ovate, 10 x 7 cm, quite succulent, soft, sticky, margin scalloped, petiole, 4 cm. Crushing the leaves produces strong ginger smell.  The flowers are showy, mauve, dense, 20 cm long, forming attractive masses. Easy to propagate by cuttings.

Terminalia stenostachya, Rosette Terminalia, has  grey bark which is rough with deep vertical furrows, stems with leaf scars, crater like. The leaves are clustered into terminal rosettes, dark green with a puckered appearance.  Flowers are creamy white and unpleasantly scented. Fruit, flattened, with 2 wings forming a flange all the way round, bright red, nestled in the leaf rosette.

Pouzolzia mixta, Snuggle leaf is a  shrub.with smooth, dark, red brown bark and velvety branchlets. The leaves are simple, spirally arranged, dark green above, rough, undersurface, silvery, white and woolly and  three-veined from base. Flowers, small greenish, white. Fruit, very small nut. Crushed leaves will turn soapy. The under side of leaves can adhere to clothing.

After two full days in this diverse riverine and bushveld area with endless discussion and much to learn. We had very comfortable accommodation, great meals and good company, and a most enjoyable time was had by all. With many thanks to Meg and Mark and knowledgeable guides. With grateful thanks to Mary for all her time spent on arrangements and correspondence.

Anne Butler



No easing of the cold weather and no sun predicted. That was maybe the main reason why so few people joined us for this exciting trip to Bindura. Paradise Pools and Falls, who wouldn’t be enticed by such a poetic name.  To get there we drove through Domboshawa over the undulating roads between rocky hills and mountains and no potholes to slow us down. Then another 15 min dust road before we arrived at the gate and paid 3 dollars each entrance fee (no deduction for pensioners).

We parked at the camping spot near the pools and falls. Immediately we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the rivers, churning rapids and clear water shallow pools. An idyllic sand beach making us dream of summer holidays. Aloe excelsa or Zimbabwe tree aloe standing as sentinels all over the granite banks of the river, sadly they had no flowers, but they must have been a sight to behold.  Aloe chabaudii were flowering in abundance and making a wonderful show.

Besides Tony and Meg we were privileged to also have Karl (referred to as the low-veld specialist by some) waiting at the gate. Enough knowledge to have a promising and educational journey.

Strychnos madagascariensis Photo:Ryan Truscott

While Tony was explaining some rudimentary Botany to some new visitors, the Blake family, and it was so good to see some new faces, we moved on to look at other things.

On the road we had passed plenty of Terminalia sericea or Silver cluster leaf. One of the predominant trees here was Terminalia stenostachya or Rosette cluster leaf with its large drooping leaves and conspicuous red fruits which were brown this time of the year. Also well established were Strychnos madagascariensis or Black monkey orange, a shrubby, many stemmed Strychnos with no spines but lateral knobs on its branches. The leaves have fine hairy serrations. One tree had even more than 25 parallel stems erupting close together. Very present also was Bridelia mollis or Velvet sweet berry with its large velvety leaves; Euphorbia matabelensis or Three forked Euphorbia who’s branches have a tendency to fork out in three branches. It didn’t have leaves now, but its small bright light green-yellow flowers were visible all over the place.

Olax dissitifolia – photo Ryan Truscott

Overall present were also 2 species of Combretum. Combretum apiculatum or Red bush willow which has leaves with apex ending into a twisted tip; Meg showed us by close examination the tertiary veins like the rungs of a ladder in between. Combretum mossambicense or Knobbly Combretum with spine-like knobbly remnants from petioles from previous years. They looked more like scrambling shrubs than trees.

A tree which we rarely see on our walks, but here conspicuous by its distribution was the Ficus glumosa or Mountain fig with hairy stems and stipules. Karl emphasized the hairy stipule as being typical for this species. We also had the ubiquitous the Julbernardia globiflora or munondo and the Brachystegia tamarindoides, (was B. glaucescens) or Mountain acacia

 Abounding was also Commiphora mollis  Velvet corkwood. Although we could hardly find any leaves, only a leaflet here and there, no full compound leaf. Its bark was mostly smooth with horizontal wrinkles and sometimes fluted. They had very milky sap and the largest one we saw had a very corky bark. And thus it could be identified. We had also many Senna singueana, winter Cassia, some of them showing their bright yellow flowers.

The following trees occurred less frequent and because of this maybe more interesting :

Diplorhynchus condylocarpon, Rubber tree;  Brachystegia boehmii, mufuti;  Margaritaria discoidea, Peacock-berry; Sericanthe or Venda coffee; and Tricalysia niamniamensis or Scaly-bark jackal-coffee, two small trees often just shrubs. Often difficult to distinguish between the two. Both have small opposite leaves, even the flowers are very alike. Even in the literature both family names are sometimes interchanged. However there were no flowers or fruits. The shape of the leaves were slightly different, the one more pointed than the other. Sericanthe should have leaf galls; Tricalysia more knobby twigs.  Olax dissitiflora or small-fruit sour plum, a small tree we very rarely come across. It has dark glossy green leaves on top, lighter underneath. Was very leafy and seemed very happy in that spot.

Sterculia quinqueloba, Large-leaved star-chestnut. Quite a few were growing here. Species could only be confirmed by the big dry leaves lying around the stems. Dalbergia nitidula, glossy flat-bean. We only saw one, small with very hairy leaves. Vangueria infausta, Wild medlar. We were now walking between the sedges as Karl mentioned, pointing out that this was not a grass. Its stems having a triangular shape on cross-section.

Vitex payos, Chocolate-berry. Friesodielsia obovata, Savanna dwaba-berry. Searsia leptodictya, Mountain karee. Antidesma venosum, Tassel-berry. These were some more of the trees we encountered on the higher rocky part of the place.

Going down to the dam, a much greener spot, we were happy to see more interesting trees that usually stay elusive or unobtrusive. Some of them, who by their scarcity might justify a visit for this purpose only Afzelia quanzensis, Pod mahogany; Crossopteryx febrifuga, Crystal-bark and Pericopsis angolensis, Mwanga,  would have been enough to make our journey a success . Then we got some more interesting trees, we hadn’t seen for too long. Uapaca nitida, Narrow-leaved mahobohobo, related to the other mazhange (U. kirkiana) which we are more used to. This one with more lanceolate-elliptic leaves and long petiole is rarely seen by some of us. Pleurostylia africana, Northern coffee-pear, which leaves have very tapering base and apex. It was profusely fruiting with yellow-white berries. Once more we had to wait for Meg to identify it after we had been guessing over other look-alikes. Swartzia madagascariensis now named Bobgunnia madagascariensis in the new books, the Snake-bean. This one had unusual long pods of 30 cm and more.

Pleurostylia africana –photo Ryan Truscott

Combretum zeyheri, Largefruited bush-willow; Pterocarpus rotundifolius, Round-leaved kiaat or teak; Acacia polyacantha, White thorn; Kirkia acuminata, White syringa. This one having an unusual rough scaly bark.  Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia, Kudu berry, were well represented along the dam.  Flacourtia indicagovernor’s plum, regularly seen here.  Pittosporum viridiflorum;  Monotes glaber, Pale-fruited Monotes,  Albizia antunesiana, Purple-leaved Albizia; Gymnosporia senegalensis, Confetti tree; Bridelia cathartica, Knobby bridelia; Cassia abbreviata, Sjambok pod,;  Ficus sur, Broom cluster fig;  Mundulea sericea, Cork bush;  Parinari curatellifolia, Mobola plum; Englerophytum magalismontanum, Stem-fruit; Euclea natalensis, Natal guarri.         

Time to take out the camping chairs, a bite and a drink. It had been a beautiful day and for some there was more to come. We had ample time to get back to Harare, where the Wimbledon final, for some, or the World Cup football final, for others, was waiting to take our minds out of the bush.

Jan van Bel







Catunaregan taylorii (ex spinosa) growing as a small tree.Vernon Dickenson