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The Kwando River basin is one of the best places to photograph birds in Namibia. One of the reasons why there are so many bird species (450) in such a small area, is due to the diversity of vegetation in the region. 

Mukolo Camp has wherever possible protected and restored the tree population on its property. Below is a list of main trees that one can find at Mukolo Camp and the immediate area.

Note: the information on this page has been extracted from Wikipedia and Safari2Go.  Safari2Go has an excellent website to visit for information on Namibia

Bird Plum Brown Ivory

Bird Plum / Brown Ivory


Berchemia discolor

Berchemia discolor, known as bird plum or brown ivory in English, is a tree native to southern and eastern Africa including Madagascar. It is a broadleaf tree growing to 18 m (60 ft).

The fruits, resembling dates, are edible with sweet flesh surrounding 1-2 flat seeds. They are occasionally sold in local markets, eaten fresh, or dried and pounded and then added to pearl millet pap for their sweet flavour. Animals like monkeys, baboons and birds also eat them.

The leaves are eaten by elephants, giraffe and several antelopes, as well as livestock, such that many trees exhibit a distinct browse line. The wood is hard and attractive, suitable for furniture, charcoal, building material, beehives, crafts, and things like tool handles and pestles.

Berchemia discolor is also used as a dye, fodder, ornamental tree and as herbal medicine to treat several human and animal diseases and ailments. For instance, the Himba people cook the bark against nausea and diarrhoea.

Apple-leaf Rain Tree

Philenoptera violacea known also as apple leaf or rain tree, Afrikaans: Appelblaar, Sotho: Mphata, Tsonga: Mohata, Zulu: Isihomohomo, IsiNdebele: Ichithamuzi, Idungamuzi, Iphanda) is a plant species in the legume family (Fabaceae).

Apple-Leaf / Rain Tree


Philenoptera violacea

Silver Cluster leaf

Silver Cluster Leaf

Geelhout / Vaalboom

Terminalia sericea

The silver cluster-leaf grows to a height of about 9 metres (30 ft) in woodland but isolated trees can be up to 23 metres (75 ft) tall. The bark is a reddish or greyish brown colour and peels away in strips. The bluish-green leaves tend to be clustered at the tips of the branches. They are ovate with entire margins and both the upper and lower surfaces are clothed in silvery hairs. The flowers are white and are borne in short axilliary spikes. They have an unpleasant smell and may be pollinated by flies. The fruit are winged nuts containing a single seed and turn a darker pink colour as they ripen. They may remain attached to the branch for a year and are dispersed by the wind. They sometimes become contorted and hairy as a result of the activities of parasitic insect larvae. It grows in open mixed woodland on sandy soils. It is often found growing with miombo (Brachystegia spp.), mopane (Colophospermum mopane), Acacia spp. and bush willows (Combretum spp.). It is often one of the dominant species in mixed woodland.

Knob-thorn Acacia

Senegalia nigrescens, the knobthorn, is a deciduous African tree, growing up to 18 m tall, that is found in savanna regions from West Africa to South Africa. The tree is resistant to drought, not resistant to frost and its hard wood is resistant to termites. Giraffes often browse on the flowers and foliage of this tree, while the seed pods and foliage are browsed on by a range of mammals, including elephants

Knob-Thorn Acacia


Acacia nigrescens

Sickle Bush Dichrostachys cinerea

Sickle Bush

Sekelbos / Papwielbos

Dichrostachys cinerea

Dichrostachys cinerea, known as sicklebush, Bell mimosa, Chinese lantern tree or Kalahari Christmas tree (South Africa), is a legume of the genus Dichrostachys in the family Fabaceae.

It is native to Africa, Indian subcontinent and North Australia and introduced to the Caribbean and parts of Southeast Asia. In Ethiopia, the species is common in the Nechisar National Park.

The tree was brought to the Caribbean in the 19th century. In Cuba, where it is known as El Marabú or Marabou weed, it has become a serious invasive species problem, occupying about 4,900,000 acres (20,000 km2) of agricultural land. Plans are underway to exploit it as a source of biomass for renewable power generation.

This tree is appearing in peninsular Florida. It is as yet uncertain if it was introduced by humans or birds.

African Wattle Peltophorum africanum

The Weeping wattle (Peltophorum africanum) is a semi-deciduous to deciduous flowering tree growing to about 15 meters tall. It is native to Africa south of the equator. Their yellow flowers bloom on the ends of branches in upright, showy sprays.

During spring time it may happen that water drips from the tree's branches, a phenomenon that is caused by the spittlebug Ptyelus grossus. The immature stages of these spittlebugs congregate on the young shoots and derive their nourishment by sucking the tree's sap. While doing so they secrete pure water, which is the cause of the "weeping" effect. It is called Huilboom (i.e. weeping tree) in Afrikaans, due to the effects of the spittlebug.

African Wattle

Dopperkiaat / Huilboom

Peltophorum africanum

Camel Thorn Acacia

Camel-Thorn Acacia

Dopperkiaat / Huilboom

Acacia erioloba

Vachellia erioloba, the camel thorn, giraffe thorn, or Kameeldoring in Afrikaans, still more commonly known as Acacia erioloba, is a tree of southern Africa in the family Fabaceae. Its preferred habitat is the deep dry sandy soils in parts of South AfricaBotswana, the western areas of Zimbabwe and Namibia. It is also native to Angola, south-west MozambiqueZambia and Eswatini. The tree was first described by Ernst Heinrich Friedrich Meyer and Johann Franz Drège in 1836. The camel thorn is a protected tree in South Africa.

The tree can grow up to 20 metres high. It is slow-growing, very hardy to drought and fairly frost-resistant. The light-grey colored thorns reflect sunlight, and the bipinnate leaves close when it is hot. The wood is dark reddish-brown in colour and extremely dense and strong. It is good for fires, which leads to widespread clearing of dead trees and the felling of healthy trees.[citation needed] It produces ear-shaped pods, favoured by many herbivores including cattle. The seeds can be roasted and used as a substitute for coffee beans.

The name 'camel thorn' refers to the fact that giraffe (kameelperd in Afrikaans) commonly feed on the leaves with their specially-adapted tongue and lips that can avoid the thorns. The scientific name 'erioloba' means "wooly lobe", a reference to the ear-shaped pods.

It is commonly associated with the long running PBS wildlife program Nature, as the tree is used in the title sequence and program logo.

Large-Fruited Combretum Combretum zeyheri

Combretum zeyheri, the large-fruited bushwillow or Zeyher's bushwillow, is a species of flowering plant in the family Combretaceae, usually found growing on acidic or sandy soils in tropical African savannas. A small to medium-sized tree, its roots are used as a source of material for making baskets and as a traditional medicine for haemorrhoids.

Large-Fruited Combretum


Combretum zeyheri

Lavender Croton Croton gratissimus

Lavender Croton


Croton gratissimus

Croton gratissimus (commonly known as lavender croton or lavender fever berry), is a tropical African shrub or small tree with corky bark, growing to 8 m and belonging to the family of Euphorbiaceae or spurges. Young twigs are slender and angular and covered in silver and rust-coloured scales. It is often found in rocky terrain.

The crushed, slender-petioled leaves are pleasingly and distinctively fragrant with an aromatic oil reminiscent of sweet flag. The leaves are strikingly silver on the under surface and dotted with brown glands. The inflorescence is a yellow-flowered raceme up to 10 cm long and borne terminally. Rust-coloured flower buds, which are present throughout winter, open after the first rains. The fruit is a 3-lobed capsule, about 10 mm in diameter and densely scaly. The tree's bark yields the toxalbumin crotin and the diterpene crotonin.

The intrepid naturalist William John Burchell came across Croton gratissimus for the first time on 19 June 1812. He had camped at a spring called Klipfontein "embosomed in rocky mountains". These 'mountains' are the hills immediately above the present-day Olifantshoek. He described the plant as "a handsome bushy shrub from four to seven foot high, closely resembling a species peculiar to Madagascar" - the species he had in mind being Croton farinosus. His Latin description praises it as 'frutex pulcherrimus' - 'most beautiful shrub'.

'Maquassi' is believed to be a Bushman name for this species and the small town of Makwassie is named after it. Boegoeberg in the Northern Cape is also derived from one of the plant's common names, Bergboegoe.

The Bantu and Bushmen use extracts from the bark of this species for a host of medicinal purposes. It is traditionally used as a febrifuge, styptic, cathartic, and a remedy for dropsy, indigestion, pleurisy, uterine disorders, rheumatism and intercostal neuralgia. Leaves are used as perfume; contains aromatic oils; sporadically browsed by elephants and kudu.

Buffalo Thorn Ziziphus mucronata



Ziziphus mucronata

Ziziphus mucronata, known as the buffalo thorn, is a species of tree in the family Rhamnaceae, native to southern Africa. It is deciduous and may grow up to 17 metres tall. It can survive in a variety of soil types, occurring in many habitats, mostly open woodlands, often on soils deposited by rivers, and grows frequently on termite mounds. Its Zulu name “umLahlankosi” alludes to its use as a grave marker for tribal chiefs, while the Afrikaans name “Blinkblaar-wag-'n-bietjie” alludes to the shiny light green leaves and the hooked thorns.

The buffalo thorn is a small to medium size tree, reaching a height of about 10 metres (33 ft), or rarely 17 metres (56 ft). The bark is a red-brown (on young stems) or roughly mottled grey, cracked in small rectangular blocks revealing a stringy red underbark. The bark becomes rough and turns to a dark grey or brown colour. The shrub or tree has distinctive zigzag branchlets, armed with pairs of thorns, one hooked and the other straight. In some instances adult trees lose their thorns completely. The fruit vary in size but regionally may grow larger than grape, and ripen to a deep brown-red colour. From October to April the greenish yellow flowers with silvery sheen are found in dense bunches in the axils of the leaves. Fruit are found from February to August.

Their small, greenish yellow flowers attract many insects. They produce abundant nectar and consequently yield honey. Several species of bird feed on the brownish-red fruit. The leaves as well as fruit are also sought after by wild animals and domestic stock. Giraffes and impala browse the leaves.

A blend made from the roots is used as painkillers and for dysentery while the bark and leaves are used for respiratory ailments and sepsis on the skin. A paste made from the roots and leaves will treat boils, sores and swelling. The above can be attributed to the peptide alkaloids and antifungal isolated from the bark and leaves. Branches are used for protection of cattle kraal and sometimes on the graves of dead tribal members. The wood is used for implement and fuel. The leaves bark and roots are used medicinally and magically for pain relief to respiratory complaints and skin infections, especially for chest and stomach disorders. The leaves if crushed may be used to stop bleeding. Steam baths from the bark are used to purify and improve the complexion. In east Africa, roots are used for treating snake bites.

The leaves are edible and can be cooked into spinach. The seeds can be roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. The fruit are not very tasty, though a type of beer can be made from them. The Ovambo people use it to distill ombike, a traditional liquor.[6] The leaves and fruits are also a valuable source of forage for livestock.

Historically the Zulus planted a buffalo thorn on the grave of a deceased chief as a reminder of where the chief was buried, hence the Zulu name “umLahlankosi”, meaning “that which buries chief”. Even today a branch from the buffalo thorn is used to retrieve the spirit of a deceased person from where he or she died. A family member will go to the place where death occurred carrying a branch of the buffalo thorn which the spirit is able to hold onto. This will be taken back to the deceased homestead and the spirit will be given a new resting place. During the transportation of the spirit the carrier will at no time look backwards, he will pay for two seats on a bus or a taxi and communicate with the spirit explaining exactly what is transpiring. If for example they are to cross a river the holder will tell the spirit “we are now crossing the river, we will get a lift on the other side”, etc.

According to a Zulu belief, a person standing under a buffalo thorn during a lightning storm is protected from a possible strike, as the tree is immune to lightning. They also believe that if buffalo thorn is cut down during summer a drought or hail storm will occur. When a stock owner died, and was buried according to custom, within the cattle or goat kraal, some branches were placed on the grave so that the animals nibbled on leaves and twigs, and so understood that their master had died. In other parts, Africans drag a branch around the village to protect it from evil spirits, as it is believed to keep evil spirits at bay.

Mouse-Eared Combretum Combretum hereroense

Combretum hereroense, commonly known as the russet bushwillow and the mouse-eared combretum, is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is found from eastern Africa to northern South Africa. Over its extensive range it is variable with respect to leaf shape, fruit size and indumentum.

They are a constituent of dry, open bushland of various types, including mopane and secondary gusu woodlands. They are regularly present on termite mounds, the fringes of pans, marshes and dambos, or on river banks (in northern Kenya). They occur in flat or rocky terrain, and thrive on sandy or silty substrates.

Mouse-Eared Combretum


Combretum hereroense

Leadwood Combretum imberbe



Combretum imberbe

Combretum imberbe (leadwood, Afrikaans: hardekool, Sotho: mohwelere-tšhipi, Tsonga: motswiri/mondzo, Zulu: impondondlovu) is a characteristic and often impressive bushwillow species of the southern Afrotropics. The medium to large tree has a sparse, semi-deciduous canopy of grey-green leaves. The twigs and leaves are hairless as the name imberbe suggests. Its heartwood is dark brown, close-grained, and very hard and heavy, as suggested by its vernacular name. The durable heartwood is much sought after in the woodcarving industry. The Hereros and Ovambos of Namibia attach special cultural and religious significance to the tree, as to them it is the great ancestor of all animals and people, which must be passed with respect.

The largest bushwillow species of southern Africa has a distinct habit and features. It has a spreading, rather sparse, roundish to slightly umbrella-shaped crown. The smallish, grey-green leaves and small, yellowish-green samaras are carried on spiny, attenuate branchlets.

It typically grows 7 metres (23 ft) to 15 metres (49 ft) tall, but may reach 20 metres (66 ft). In maturity the single, solid bole may be up 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in diameter. The distinctive bark is pale to dark grey in colour, deeply fissured lengthwise. Irregular horizontal cracks infuse the bark a fairly regular, coarse-grained appearance.

Radiocarbon dating, done in South Africa, has established that a leadwood tree can live up to 1070 ± 40 years.  A tree can remain standing for many years after it has died.

  • The wood is dense and very hard, difficult to plane, but drills, sands and turns well. It is termite resistant. It was once used for railway sleepers and is now prized for ornamental work and furniture.

  • It burns very slowly with intense heat, and is often used for a fire which is intended to burn all night in order to keep wild animals at bay. It is sometimes used in a barbecue to provide a hot, long-lasting flame.

  • The ashes are used as whitewash for painting walls of kraal huts.

  • The ashes can also be used as toothpaste when mixed into a paste with water.

Sickle-Leaved Albizia Albizia Harveyi

Sickle-Leaved Albizia


Albizia harveyi

A medium-size tree to 15 m in height, native to eastern and southern Africa, with a slender trunk covered by fissured bark, a flattened crown, pinnate leaves with sickle shaped leaflets and a prominent gland on the petiole and white flowers, followed by elongated, brown-purple, edible seed pods. Albizia harveyi is a very useful tree, being a valuable source of fodder for livestock, a source of timber, food, medicine and also makes a nice ornamental plant. It is ideal for the tropics and some warm-temperate climates.

Jackal-Berry African Ebony

Jackal-Berry / 

African Ebony


Diospyros mespiliformis

Diospyros mespiliformis, the jackalberry (also known as African ebony and by its Afrikaans name jakkalsbessie), is a large dioecious evergreen tree found mostly in the savannas of AfricaJackals are fond of the fruit, hence the common names. It is a member of the family Ebenaceae, and is related to the true ebony (D. ebenum) and edible persimmon (D. kaki).

Mature trees have dark gray fissured bark. An adult tree reaches an average of 4 to 6 metres in height, though occasionally trees reach 25 metres. The foliage is dense and dark green with elliptical leaves, which are often eaten by grazing animals such as elephants and buffalo. The tree flowers in the rainy season; the flowers are imperfect, with genders on separate trees, and are cream-colored. The female tree bears fruit in the dry season and these are eaten by many wild animals; they are oval-shaped, yellow or purple when ripe and about 20–30 mm in diameter. The fruit remain embedded in the persistent calyx lobes. Like the marula, the tree is favoured by the Bantu, who will leave them growing in their cultivated lands in order to harvest the fruit.

Jackalberry trees often grow on termite mounds, preferring deep alluvial soils, but are not uncommon on sandy soils in savanna. It grows in mutualism with termites, which aerate the soil around its roots but do not eat the living wood; in turn, the tree provides protection for the termites. The jackalberry is the largest member of its genus in the southern subtropics, and is northwards present to the Sahara. It occurs in high densities from subtropical to tropical regions.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

The fruit is edible for humans; its flavor has been described as lemon-like, with a chalky consistency when unripe, and sweet fleshy when ripe. On average the fruit contains 2-5 brown seeds. Most people prefer letting them dry before eating, and the dry ones are stored and consumed as a snack when the fresh fruit goes out of season. They are sometimes preserved, can be dried and ground into a flour, and are often used for brewing beer and brandy.

The Ovambo people call the fruit of the jackalberry eenyandi and use it to distill ombike, their traditional liquor.

The leaves, bark and roots of the tree contain tannin, which can be used as a styptic to staunch bleeding. The roots are consumed to purge parasites and are thought to be a remedy for leprosy.

The wood of the jackalberry is almost impervious to termite damage. The heart wood is fine-grained and strong, and is often used for making wood floors and furniture. Trunks of the tree are used for canoes. The wood ranges in color from light reddish-brown to a very dark brown.

Magic Guarri Euclea divinorum

Euclea divinorum, called diamond leaf, diamond-leaved euclea, magic guarri, and toothbrush tree, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Euclea, native to eastern and southern Africa. A shrub or small tree, it has many uses in Africa, including as a source for dye for wool, for tanning leather, and an ink, and as a preservative for milk (allowing it to keep for up to a year), and, by chewing on a twig, as a toothbrush.

Magic Guarri


Euclea divinorum

Paper-Bark Acacia Acacia sieberiana

Paper-Bark Acacia


Acacia sieberiana

Vachellia sieberiana, until recently known as Acacia sieberiana[6][7][8] and commonly known as the paperbark thorn or paperbark acacia, is a tree native to southern Africa and introduced into Pakistan. It is used in many areas for various purposes. The tree varies from 3 to 25 m in height, with a trunk diameter of 0.6 to 1.8 m. It is not listed as being a threatened species.

Vachellia sieberiana is valued largely as a source of forage, medicine and wood. The inner bark is a source of fibre purposes such as stringing beads[). The gum is edible) and both livestock and game animals browse the tree and feed on the dropped pods, spreading viable seeds in their dung. The flowers of the tree make good forage for bees and bee hives are put directly in the trees to exploit the resource.[9] The leaves of the tree commonly release toxic chemical compounds when the tree has been heavily browsed, some of the compounds may release hydrogen cyanide when ingested, which may be lethal to cattle. The fallen pods and foliage can provide lifesaving forage during dry times of the year.

The gum of the tree is used as food, as an adhesive, and as an ingredient in making ink.

In Africa, the bark or root is used to treat urinary tract inflammation. The bark has astringent properties and it is used to treat colds, cough, and childhood fever. According to the World AgroForestry Centre,

"A decoction of the root is taken as remedy for stomach-ache. The bark, leaves and gums are used to treat tapewormbilharziahaemorrhageorchitis, colds, diarrhoeagonorrhoeakidney problems, syphilisophthalmiarheumatism and disorders of the circulatory system. It is also used as an astringent. The pods serve as an emollient, and the roots for stomach-ache, acne, tapeworms, urethral problems, oedema and dropsy."

Vachellia sieberiana is a legume and like many legumes it hosts Rhizobium bacteria in its roots. The bacteria fix nitrogen gas from the air and, without requiring nitrogen fertilizer or soil nitrates, they convert it into nitrogen compounds necessary for plant nutrition. Ultimately, surrounding plants also benefit from the increase in available nitrogen, which means that plants such as Vachellia species are of particular ecological importance.[9]

Tannin is found in the bark and seed pods.

The wood is fairly hard and it is used for furniture, handles for implements and tools for grinding grain manually. The wood of V. sieberiana has a density of about 655 kg/m³.

This tree is widespread in its natural habitat and is not threatened. It is browsed upon by livestock and game such as elephant and giraffe.

Sycamore Fig Ficus sycomorus

Sycamore Fig


Ficus sycomorus

Ficus sycomorus, called the sycamore fig or the fig-mulberry (because the leaves resemble those of the mulberry), sycamore, or sycomore, is a fig species that has been cultivated since ancient times.[citation needed]

The term sycamore spelled with an A has also been used for unrelated trees: the Great Maple, Acer pseudoplatanus, or plane trees, Platanus. The spelling "sycomore", with an O rather than an A as the second vowel is, if used, specific to Ficus sycomorus.

Ficus sycomorus is native to Africa south of the Sahel and north of the Tropic of Capricorn, also excluding the central-west rainforest areas. It also grows naturally in Lebanon; in the southern Arabian Peninsula; in Cyprus; in very localised areas in Madagascar; and in IsraelPalestine and Egypt. In its native habitat, the tree is usually found in rich soils along rivers and in mixed woodlands.

Ficus sycomorus grows to 20 m tall and has a considerable spread, with a dense round crown of spreading branches. The leaves are heart-shaped with a round apex, 14 cm long by 10 cm wide, and arranged spirally around the twig. They are dark green above and lighter with prominent yellow veins below, and both surfaces are rough to the touch. The petiole is 0.5–3 cm long and pubescent. The fruit is a large edible fig, 2–3 cm in diameter, ripening from buff-green to yellow or red. They are borne in thick clusters on long branchlets or the leaf axil. Flowering and fruiting occurs year-round, peaking from July to December. The bark is green-yellow to orange and exfoliates in papery strips to reveal the yellow inner bark. Like all other figs, it contains a latex.

According to botanists Daniel Zohary (b. 1926) and Maria Hopf (1914–2008),[citation needed] the ancient Egyptians cultivated this species "almost exclusively."[clarification needed] Remains of F. sycomorus begin to appear in predynastic levels and in quantity from the start of the third millennium BC. It was the ancient Egyptian Tree of Life. Zohary and Hopf note that "the fruit and the timber, and sometimes even the twigs, are richly represented in the tombs of the Egyptian Early, Middle and Late Kingdoms." In numerous cases the parched fruiting bodies, known as sycons, "bear characteristic gashing marks indicating that this art, which induces ripening, was practised in Egypt in ancient times."

Although this species of fig requires the presence of the symbiotic wasp Ceratosolen arabicus to reproduce sexually, and this insect is extinct in Egypt, Zohay and Hopf have no doubt that Egypt was "the principal area of sycamore fig development."[clarification needed] Some of the caskets of mummies in Egypt are made from the wood of this tree. In tropical areas where the wasp is common, complex mini-ecosystems involving the wasp, nematodes, other parasitic wasps, and various larger predators revolve around the life cycle of the fig. The trees' random production of fruit in such environments assures its constant attendance by the insects and animals which form this ecosystem.

A study in 2015 indicated that the sycamore tree was brought to Israel by Philistines during the Iron Age, along with opium poppy and cumin.[8][9] These sycamore trees used to be numerous in western Beirut, lending their name to the neighborhood of Gemmayzeh ((الْجُمَّيْزَة‎ al-Ǧummayzah), "sycamore fig"). However, the trees have largely disappeared from this area.

In Kikuyu Religion, the sycomore is a sacred tree. All sacrifices to Ngai (or Murungu), the supreme creator, were performed under the tree. Whenever the mugumo tree fell, it symbolised a bad omen and rituals had to be performed by elders in the society. Some of those ceremonies carried under the Mugumo tree are still observed to date.

 Kalahari Currant Searsia tenuinervis

A common shrub up to 1,50m tall which grows on deep sands as well as loamy sands of the omurambas. The leaves are 3-foliate, hairy and slightly toothed on the upper half. Flowers and fruits have not been observed by the author. 

The very small, brown fruits are eaten raw by children and their taste is said to be sweet.

The roots provide a remedy for treating cough. The roots are put into cold water, heated until the water boils and then removed. The infusion is taken three times per day until the patient feels better. 

Kalahari Currant


Searsia tenuinervis

Sheperds Tree Boscia albitrunca

Shepherds Tree


Boscia albitrunca

Boscia albitrunca, commonly known as the shepherd tree or shepherd's tree (Afrikaans: Witgat, Sotho: Mohlôpi, Tswana: Motlôpi, Venda: Muvhombwe, Xhosa: Umgqomogqomo, Zulu: Umvithi), is a protected tree in South AfricaThe species epithet "albitrunca" refers to the oftentimes white trunk. Traditionally, the shepherd tree was used by Dutch settlers, "boers", to create a variant of coffee that is derived from the roots of the tree. It is an evergreen tree native to southern and tropical Africa, living in the hot, dry, and often brackish low-lying areas, sometimes on abundant lime or occasionally found in rocky terrain. It is a common tree of the Kalaharibushveld and lowveld. It is one of the most important forage trees in the Kalahari.

This tree grows up to 10 m (33 ft) tall but is usually much smaller. It has a prominent, sturdy white trunk frequently with strips of rough, dark-coloured bark. The crown is often browsed by antelope and all grazers that can reach the foliage, resulting in a conspicuous flattened underside or browse-line. The leaves are narrow, oblanceolate, and stiff with veins obscure except for the distinct midrib. The flowers are small, greenish-yellow, star-shaped, and clustered. The fruits, on a jointed stalk, are about 10 mm (0.4 in) in diameter and are brittle-skinned with a whitish flesh and large endocarp. A specimen found in the central Kalahari in 1974 had roots extending to 68 m (223 ft) deep, making it the plant with the deepest known roots.

Corkwood Commiphora caudata

The genus of the myrrhs, Commiphora, is the most species-rich genus of flowering plants in the frankincense and myrrh family, Burseraceae. The genus contains approximately 190 species of shrubs and trees, which are distributed throughout the (sub-) tropical regions of Africa, the western Indian Ocean islands, the Arabian PeninsulaIndia, and South America. The genus is drought-tolerant and common throughout the xerophytic scrubseasonally dry tropical forests, and woodlands of these regions.

The common name myrrh refers to several species of the genus, from which aromatic resins are derived for various fragrance and medicinal uses by humans.



Commiphora sp.

Sand-Veld Acacia fleckii

The sand veld acacia (Acacia fleckii) is a tree or a shrub often reaching 5m high. The northern and central areas of Namibia provide both rocky outcrops and sandy soils, ideal habitats for this plant. Sandy plains associated with the north-west region of the Namibian Kalahari Desert, the Kunene and Kavango regions as well as the Zambezi Region (formerly the Caprivi Strip) are included in the range.

Features include pale yellow to white flowers that bloom from November to March, pale green leaves and a grey-white to pale yellow bark. A straw-coloured, stalked pod will split open when ripe to reveal fruit. Leaves and bark are eaten by small livestock. Branches are used in fence and gate posts for kraals. Owambo people use the bark as a type of rope. An edible gum seeps out slowly from the tree. Ref: Plants of Namibia. Photo by David Becking

Sand-Veld Acacia

Bladdoring / Geelhaak

Acacia fleckii

Kalahari Acacia luederitzii

Not surprisingly the Kalahari acacia (Acacia leuderitzii) grows predominately on Kalahari sands and on occasions calcrete, a sedimentary rock. The rounding and spreading crown enables the tree to grow up to 5m high with distinctive brown-grey to reddish, almost black, bark. Thorns can be straight or curved, the leaves are dark green and the white to cream-coloured flowers blossom from November to March.

The straight, flat dark reddish-brown fruit pod opens when ripe. There are some similarities between this tree and A. tortilis, the umbrella thorn, only this species has thicker branches and a more upright appearance. Ref: Plants of Namibia. Photo by Tsammalex

Kalahari Acacia


Acacia luederitzii

Candle-Pod Acacia hebeclada

Candle-Pod Acacia


Acacia hebeclada

Visitors to the Sesriem Canyon area of Namibia might want to look out for candle pod acacias, (Acacia hebecllada) that grow on the small dunes to the north and west of the camp. These large, green, thorny thickets, usually develop from one plant and resemble 'desert islands.' They have been known to have a diameter of 25m or more, and sand that blows against the plants form dune hummocks and new plants develop from underground stolons or runners. Its common name is derived from the light-coloured, hard, woody seed pods, which grow upright on the branches and resemble small candles, and as the pods stay on the plant for several months, they are relatively easy to identify. As with all plant life in the desert, the young shoots, seed pods, leaves and pale yellow flowers attract and are eaten by domestic stock and game. Stomach ailments can be treated by the root bark and an edible gum oozes from its stem.

It goes without saying that harsh and barren desert conditions, make survival in this unique environment, difficult and at times downright impossible. The candle pod plays its part in sustaining life form as these islands of plants in a sea of sand, provide homes and shelter to many animals. Rodents, reptiles and birds, live in these islands, and larger animals such as jackals and hyenas find shelter from the sand and the wind under or beside them. Gemsbok also protect themselves from incessant winds and the many desert sand storms, and they are worth taking the time to investigate.  Photo by WikiMedia.   Ref: Plants of Namibia

Large Sourplum Ximenia caffra

Large Sourplum

Groot Suurpruim / Rooipruim

Ximenia caffra

Ximenia caffra, the sourplum, is a small tree or small shrub that is thinly branched. It is part of the Olacaceae family which is native throughout tropical regions. In particular, the sourplum is native to regions in South East Africa, mainly BotswanaKenyaMalawiMozambiqueSouth AfricaTanzaniaUgandaZambia, and Zimbabwe. The sourplum tree produces several fruits on an annual basis. These are generally sour with a dry aftertaste, and they contain significant amounts of potassium. The tree itself is fairly hardy, with frost resistance and drought tolerance. The tree, fruit, seed, leaves, and roots are all used for human consumption, medicinally, or for fuel. The trees themselves can also be used as natural land division barriers.

The sourplum tree is a sparsely branched shrub or small tree around 2 m in height with a shapeless untidy crown. It has been known to grow to about 6 m in height. The branches are either smooth or covered with flattened hairs and armed with spines at their bases. The bark of the tree is grayish-brown to black in colour, and is longitudinally fissured. The leaves are simple, alternate, and elliptic in shape. When the tree flowers, the flowers are greenish to creamy white in colour although they have been seen to be sometimes tinged pink or red.

The sourplum fruit itself is ellipsoidal in shape. The skin is smooth and starts green, and then ripens to an orange or red. Similarly the flesh is also orange or red in colour, and when ripe has a juicy pulp. The sourplum is 3.5 cm in length and 2.5 cm in diameter. The seed is smooth, ellipsoid, and yellow-brown to red in colour. The seed is hard and around 2.5 cm in length.

It will generally flower in September to October during the dry season to the onset of the rains. The fruits from this flowering are produced in December to January during the rains. This varies from region to region as in Tanzania, flowering occurs in January, May, July, and October, with the fruit being produced generally in October and January. The sourplum can tolerate altitudes of up to 2000 m, and requires annual rainfall of 250–1270 mm. It generally requires clay or loam soils for effective growth.[3] Once planted the seeds will germinate after 14–30 days, and have a moderate growth rate of 0.5 m per year.

The fruit is sour but can be eaten raw; it is best eaten when slightly overripe.[4] More typically, it is put into cold water to soak, and then the skin and seed are removed by pressing. The remaining pulp is then mixed with pounded tubers to create a porridge. Alternatively, the fruits can also be processed into a storable jam. The fruits are also known to be used for desserts and jellies.

The wood of the tree is hard and fine-grained. Typically, it is used as a firewood. However, it can also be used to make handles for tools, utensils, or for construction purposes.

To extract the oil, the seeds are roasted, then mashed, and the oil extracted. The oil serves several purposes, and can be used to soften leather, oiling bowstrings, or as a general ointment. Alternatively, the oil can be used cosmetically for the hair or for the skin to soothe chafing. The oil can also be used as fuel for lamps.

The chemical profile of X. caffra leaf was comprehensively analyzed and led to the identification of 10 polyphenol compounds, including phenolic acid and flavonoids. Further bioactivity investigations showed that extracts of X. caffra leaves exhibit anti-oxidant, anti-proliferation, and anti-inflammatory activities. The underlying molecular mechanism may partially be contributed by the inhibition of NF-κB activation, a shared signal pathway between proliferation and inflammation.

The roots are used to treat abscesses, stomach aches, colic, malaria, coughs, and bilharzias. They can also be pounded, turned into porridge and eaten to reportedly prevent sterility in women. It is thought that powdered roots can also be added to beer to act as an aphrodisiac. The tree’s bark is used as a remedy for syphilishookworm, chest pains, and body pain. The seeds are generally roasted and then pounded for their oils to be used for wounds as an ointment. The leaves can be used to soothe inflamed eyes and as a reported cure for tonsillitis. Most of these claims do not appear to have been scientifically validated, and further research is required.

The fruits are eaten by birds and various other animals. Several butterfly species are known to feed on the leaves. Various mammals are known to graze on the leaves of the tree, with particular emphasis in times of drought.

The ripe fruit has a high amount of tannins, leading to an astringent dry aftertaste. The fruit’s astringent qualities will intensify during storage. The seeds have no special requirements for storage. The tree can be used as a natural fence to designate tracts of land or set a perimeter. The plant is moderately frost tolerant and drought resistant. The fruits are known to be sold in small markets.

Caprivi Combretum Combretum apiculatum

Caprivi Combretum / Bushwillow

Combretum elaegnoides

Black Monkey-Thorn Strychnos madagascariensis

Black Monkey-Thorn


Strychnos madagascariensis

Strychnos madagascariensis, the black monkey orange, is an African tropical and sub-tropical tree belonging to the Loganiaceae family. It is a tree with characteristically large fruit but can confused with some other species of the genus.

Usually about 6m tall and often multi-stemmed with a spreading, irregular crown, it occurs in open woodland, rocky places, riverine fringes and coastal forest. Bark mostly pale grey with white and dark grey patches, smooth, occasionally powdery. Branches are unarmed though short, rigid lateral shoots may resemble spines. The opposite leaves - often tufted - are smooth to hairy, leathery, elliptic to circular, shiny dark green above and markedly paler below.

Flowers are small and greenish-yellow in clusters of 1-4 flowers. Fruit is near-spherical with a thick, woody shell, about 8 cm in diameter and distinctively blue-green in colour when young, turning yellow when mature. The tightly-packed poisonous seeds are covered in an orange, fleshy, edible pulp rich in citric acid and iridoids - the pulp is relished by humans and baboons. Iridoids are primarily a defense against herbivory and pathogens, and are characterized by a bitter taste.

The tree is a close relative of Strychnos nux-vomica, the seed of which is a source of strychnineFishing with poisonous plants used to be a common practice in Africa, and though outlawed is still employed in remote areas. As with other species of Strychnos the seeds are pulverised and thrown into a pool or dammed sections of a stream, affected fish soon rising to the surface, while subsequent cooking breaks down the poison. Oils extracted from the inner skin of the fruit have a high oleic acid content.

Confetti Spike Thorn

Confetti Spike-Thorn


Gymnosporia senegalensis

Rough-Leaved Raisin Bush Grewia flavescens

Grewia flavescens, called rough-leaved raisin, sandpaper raisin, and donkey berry (a name it shares with Grewia bicolor), is a species of flowering plant in the family Malvaceae, native to sub‑Saharan Africa, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and India. It is considered to be an underutilized crop, both for its fruit and its use for livestock forage.

Rough-Leaved Raisin Bush


Grewia flavescens

Pink Bauhinia urbaniana

Pink Bauhinia


Bauhinia urbaniana

Black-Thorn Acacia mellifera

Black-Thorn Acacia

Hakiebos / Swarthaak

Acacia mellifera

Senegalia mellifera is a common thorn tree in Africa. The name mellifera refers to its sweet-smelling blossoms and honey. Its lumber turns pitch black when oiled. Common names of the tree include Blackthorn and Swarthaak (Afrikaans). It is listed as being not threatened.

Senegalia mellifera can occur either as a multi-trunked bush up to seven metres high with more or less a funnel-shaped crown, or as a single-trunked tree that can reach a height of up to nine metres. It can form an impenetrable thickets. In some areas of Africa, it is considered an invasive species as it can expand into and cover large areas of farmland.

In Africa, Senegalia mellifera is used as fencing, livestock feed and building material for huts. It flowers are sources of nectar for honey-producing bees. The wood is prized also for fuel and making charcoal. It is widely used in traditional African medicine. The plant contains the psychoactive chemical DMT.

This tree is an important feed resource for both cattle and wild animals especially in dry areas of Africa. The leaves and young branches are very nutritious, containing a high percentage of protein. The flowers are often eaten by kudu. Common browsers of the tree include elephantsblack rhinogiraffe and the eland. Acacia mellifera leaves can constitute an important part of goat diets.

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