APRIL 2024


Since inclement weather or other issues may vary our plans, please join our WhatsApp group (Tony Alegria on 0772 438 697) for last-minute updates.

Saturday 6th April 2024:- visit to the National Botanical Gardens.  Meet at 8.30 in the main car park and join us for an interesting morning looking at trees that catch our interest.

Sunday 28th April 2024:- The 74th A.G.M. will be held at the home of Bill and Fiona at Val d’Or on Sunday 28th April 2024 at 9.30 a.m.  See the notice at the end of this Tree Life issue.



By Tony Alegria, photo by Jim Dryburgh

Seven enthusiasts turned up for the monthly tree walk to a place that surprisingly keeps coming up with unknown trees and shrubs.

On a quiet, sunny day the ladies: Ann Sinclair, Dido de Swardt and Barbara Maarsdorp joined the men: Jan van Bel, Jim Dryburgh, Mark Hyde and myself to explore an area near the car park. Dido came armed with a new-looking Trees of Southern Africa book. The aim was to see if there were any more unknown species in this patch of woodland near the pump house.

The Commiphora ugogensis had leaves but no flowers or fruit. Nearby we looked at the Schrebera trichoclada. Wooden pear we had only found a month ago. In February, there were many flowers on this tree and on this outing we looked in vain to locate some fruit. We wondered if perhaps this tree was dioecious – having separate male and female trees.

Nearby was a Commiphora karibensis with its hairy, once pinnate leaves whose leaflets felt a bit rough to the touch as opposed to the Commiphora mollis whose leaves are similar but are softer.

We then came across two Pteleopsis species. Pteleopsis myrtifolia, the two-winged stink-bushwillow has longer petioles and smoother, longer leaves than the similar Pteleopsis anisoptera, the four-winged stink-bushwillow which has very short petioles and is distinctly hairy. The only fruit found had 2 or 3 wings, so these were from the Pteleopsis myrtifolia.

There was a tree with smooth bark absolutely full of lenticels which turned out to be a Casimiroa edulis, the Mexican apple.

The baobab was rather interesting in that little side branches had simple or trifoliate leaves whilst the big branches had palmate leaves with 3, 4, 5 or 6 leaflets!

Some of the other trees we looked at but were not mentioned above were: Kirkia acuminata, Ficus stuhlmannii, Cordyla africana, Pterocarpus lucens, Vangueria infausta, Pavetta gardeniifolia and Brachystegia spiciformis which we see nearly all the time but seldom get mentioned.  The only reason I am mentioning the msasa is because there was a really big, good-looking tree in the forest patch we were looking at!

Grewia pachycalyx

 Outside the forest patch, we had a brief look at Baikiaea plurijuga and Acacia erioloba.

The last “tree” we looked at was a Grewia from which Mark took some flowers at the last months’ outing. It appears that this is Grewia pachycalyx. The thing we noticed about this Grewia was the huge difference in leaf sizes!

Mark collected specimens of trees we couldn’t identify and hopefully some of them will turn out to be new species.

Vepris nobilis

All in all, a very interesting morning.



A contribution from Mark Hyde was this picture of the fruit of Vepris nobilis – truly a noble display.




By Mark  Hyde, photos by Mark Hyde and Jim Dryburgh

The main Tree Society outing this month was to the Mazowe Botanical Reserve at Christon Bank. The Reserve is managed by the National Herbarium and Botanic Garden in partnership with My Trees Trust.  The Reserve has been fenced, a parking area established and also a nursery created for indigenous trees.

What a splendid habitat the Reserve contains! There is superb rocky miombo woodland with a rich flora. The area lies at a somewhat lower altitude than Harare, ranging from about 1350 m in the areas near the carpark where we botanised on this day to nearer 1200 m near the bottom at the Mazowe River.

Tony Alegria leading the society outing

Miombo species present included Brachystegia boehmii, glaucescens and spiciformis together with Julbernardia globiflora. B. glaucescens and spiciformis grow mixed together here and also present were some of the mysterious brachystegias with more leaflets than spiciformis which we are uncertain as to whether they are Brachystegia utilis or hybrids between glaucescens and spiciformis. In a place like Christon Bank, a hybrid origin would seem more likely.


It was decided to take advantage of the Tree Society visit to label on a temporary basis the trees and about 56 species were so labelled, thanks to the energetic Vicki Bowen and her team.


Powdery bark of Strychnos innocua

Strychnos innocua – lower
side of leaf

One of the most unusual species seen was Strychnos innocua, the Powder-bark monkey-orange, so called because of the pale grey bark which can be rubbed off as a grey powder. This species has somewhat smaller fruits (4-7.5 cm in diameter) than the two most common monkey-oranges Strychnos cocculoides and Strychnos spinosa (7-11 cm in diameter) which are the ones we most often see around Harare.  Furthermore the fruit of S. innocua is typically blue-green when immature; becoming yellow or orange when finally ripe.

Strychnos innocua - upper side of leaf

Strychnos innocua – upper
side of leaf

The specific name of innocua means harmless (innocuous) referring to the lack of spines, which are present in both S. cocculoides and S. spinosa.




Rocky flora of Christon Bank



Our path took us through a wonderful rocky flora of Commiphora mollis and mossambicensis,  Euphorbia griseola subsp. mashonica and Kirkia acuminata. The rocky habitats were good for figs.   Ficus glumosa, which is not a species we see often near Harare, Ficus natalensis subsp. graniticola with its rounding or truncate leaf apices sprawling over the higher rocky boulders; Ficus ingens, Ficus burkei and Ficus sur.

There was a lot of Margaritaria discoidea which is particularly abundant at Christon Bank. Also Hexalobus monopetalus. Amongst the rocks was an Erythrina latissima, which I had never noticed before.

Towards the end of our walk we came across an Acacia with paired hooked thorns. I examined this later, and it best matched Acacia (or Senegalia if you prefer) goetzei, Purple-pod acacia, a species characteristic of woodland. The leaflet sizes were a bit large for subsp. microphylla and too small for subsp. goetzei, but as Jonathan Timberlake writes in the book Acacias of Zimbabwe, these two subspecies are not geographically distinct and fully intergrade, so it is not always possible to allocate individual specimens to a subspecies.

Corallocarpus wildii

A totally new species to me was Corallocarpus wildii. This is a perennial herb (definitely not a tree) with prostrate or climbing branches. John Lawrence spotted the red fruits and showed them to me. The unusual feature is that the fruits have a cap (which resembles a pixie hat) which comes off when the fruit splits open. This method of opening is called circumscissile dehiscence and is not that common. The species name wildii refers to Professor Hiram Wild, (1917-1982), former Head of the National Herbarium (SRGH)

Ipomoea pileata




And on the subject of herbs, we came across a species of morning-glory, Ipomoea pileata which, most unusually, encloses its flowers in a boat-like involucre.

Meg Coates Palgrave


From the Editor

Meg Coates Palgrave died peacefully in the early hours of Friday 22 March 2024.


She reached age 89 on 10th March and the WhatsApp group was filled with birthday messages.


During the day so many messages of appreciation were received both on the WhatsApp Group and on the Flora of Tropical Africa FaceBook page I thought, before the official funeral and obituary,  it would be my contribution to her memory to collate them into a picture of this lady, starting with the picture from Bart Wursten which is how I remember her, just pleased to be out in the bush with like-minded people.



Some of the epitaphs were:

  • A life well-lived, a loss to our community, an amazing spark, the end of an era, a true Zimbabwean treasure who contributed so much to her country, a wealth of knowledge, one in a million, the legend, a privilege to benefit from her exceptional knowledge so willingly shared, incredibly encouraging and supportive, Awwww no! and we have lost a botanical guru bro!
  • This doyenne of botany also enjoyed her lunch and sundowner with an ice-cold beer sharing this time with many who were with her but resenting small talk, preferring to look at plant specimens.   Her drive and enthusiasm, skills and knowledge and her good company will live on through all those who treasure and appreciate the environment they live in.
  • Many of you will have personal recollections of Meg, some of which I have seen already as you remembered her through Facebook and WhatsApp; however, the next issue will contain a special tribute to Meg so please feel free to send them to me (contact details below) so we can share our memories of this amazing woman.

This month we also remember Helene Nel who passed away in early February. She attended Tree Society meetings for many years and had a lifelong love of trees and the outdoors.


African Seeds Group (ASG) was established in 2018 to develop, import and distribute a broad range of agronomy, forage and vegetable seeds specifically focusing on the emerging farmer market in South Africa.  The concept of Indigenous Tree Day was floated to this group in October 2023, by Dr. Victor Nsereko Wantate.  The concept being to broaden the outlook of the group into a much-needed conservation impact.   This recent initiative should not be confused with National Tree Planting Day in December.  The aim is to actively build our national capacities, appreciate and grow indigenous trees and increase diversity.  For more information go to but why not find an indigenous tree and collect the seed and try and grow it for planting out.


The 74th A.G.M. will be held at the home of Bill and Fiona at Val d’Or on Sunday 28th April 2024 at 9.30 a.m.

Any proposals/resolutions and nominations for office bearers (and any volunteers to be on the Committee) should be forwarded by email to the Secretary, Teig Howson at: by Wednesday 24th April if possible, although proposals and nominations will be accepted from the floor.

Venue details and directions to follow. N.B. The minutes of the 73rd A.G.M. held last year will be circulated again by email and thus will be taken as read at this year’s A.G.M. You need to be paid up to vote – you can pay your subscriptions, US$5, at the A.G.M.


  1. Notice convening the meeting.
  2. Apologies
  3. Matters Arising
  4. Chairman’s Report
  5. Treasurer’s Report
  6. Election of Office Bearers
  7. Any other business

However, as we have done in the past, we will be having the social on the same day, program below:

09:30 Coffee / Tea and Eats
10:30 AGM
11:00 Scavenger Hunt
12:00 Socializing and lunch
14:00 Fun Quiz
15:00 Coffee / Tea / Eats and socializing

 Lunch will be provided and will consist of a braai and sides supplied by the Tree Society of Zimbabwe. Details to follow.

This function is for members only. For catering purposes, we need to know who is attending. So, diarise the event and let us know soonest if are coming.


Chairman                             Tony  Alegria       0772 438 697
Honorary Treasurer         Bill Clarke                       0772 252 720
Projects                                 Jan van Bel           0772 440 287
Venue Organiser                Ann Sinclair      0772 433 125
Committee Member          Ryan Truscott   0772 354 144
Secretary                               Teig  Howson           0772 256 364

Tree Life Editor                   Linda Hyde        0772 232 075
Tree Society Website
Tree Society Facebook
Flora of Zimbabwe:   
Flora of Tropical Africa: