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Saturday 3 June. Botanic Garden Walk at 10.45 for 11 a.m. Tom continues
with the very interesting topic 'rarely seen trees'. We will meet Tom
in the car park where there will be a guard for the cars.
Sunday 18 June. The outing scheduled for this month is cancelled.
Saturday 24 June. Mark's walk this month has been cancelled.
Friday 23 – Sunday 25 June. The Succulent Expo 2000 scheduled to
take place at the National Botanical Garden, has been cancelled.
Saturday 1 July. Botanic Garden Walk.
Sunday 16 July. In the Harare area.
Saturday 22 July. Mark's Walk.
Sunday 4 June. To Hillside dams. Meet as usual in the car park at Girls'
College at 8.15 for 8.30 a.m. sharp. Please phone one of the committee
members for confirmation of this meeting.
BOTANIC GARDEN WALK: TUESDAY 4TH APRIL 2000
The subject for today was Rutaceae, the Citrus family. The Botanic Garden
is a wonderful source of living reference material and although not every
Zim¬babwean member of the family is to be found there, most are and
we were able to survey the whole family in about an hour.
As far as Zimbabwean species are concerned, the family has the following
• mostly trees or shrubs (one perennial herb: Thamnosma rhodesica)
• with or without spines or prickles
• no stipules
• leaves usually alternate (but some opposite)
• leaves simple, 3-foliolate, digitate or imparipinnate (this feature
provides a very useful and easy character)
• leaves dotted with pellucid glands
• leaves usually aromatic when crushed (because of the glands)
• inflorescence a panicle, raceme or cluster
• the flowers are unisexual or bisexual
• sepals, petals and stamens occur in multiples of 4 or 5
• the fruit may be a berry, drupe, capsule or follicle
The leaves provide an easy way to get a handle on the family. To start
with the least degree of compoundness, four genera have representatives
with simple leaves. These are the herbaceous Thamnosma referred to above,
the genus Citrus, which although exotic, is a long-standing escape in
certain places, Vepris drummondii (please see below) and Calodendrum.
Tom remarked that Calodendrum capense (the Cape chestnut) drops its leaves
twice a year and may also flower twice a year. The flowers somewhat resemble
a martagon lily and are slightly unusual in possessing sepals, petals
and stamens and in addition a whorl of flattened staminodes which are
longer than the petals and are dotted with crimson glands. The fruit is
a large (c.3.5 cm in diameter), 5-lobed capsule, covered with warty projections.
Calodendrum capense is basically a forest species, where it may attain
30 m in height.
On next to the genera with 3-foliolate leaflets. These are Teclea, Vepris,
Toddalia, Toddaliopsis and Oricia.
Toddalia asiatica is a liana or scrambling shrub with numerous prominent
prickles on the stems and leaves. It is a forest edge species, seen quite
commonly in the eastern districts and also occurring on outliers such
as Hwedza Mountain and Buchwa. The fruits resemble tiny lemons or naartjies.
The remaining 4 genera are broadly similar and it has been suggested that
they should all be merged into the genus Vepris.
Of these, Oricia bachmannii (Twin-berry tree) may be recognised by its
opposite leaves; the other genera in this group nearly always have alternate
leaves. Tom mentioned also that its leaves are relatively large and that
it has 4 free carpels, compared with united carpels in the others. The
genus has 4 stamens and is therefore rather like Teclea.
Toddaliopsis bremekampii (the Wart-berry) is a rather rare species from
the mist-belt in the SE of Zimbabwe. As the name suggests, it has a densely
warty fruit. It also has 8 stamens.
The two remaining genera, Teclea and Vepris look very much alike and differ
in technical characters. Teclea has c.4 stamens (Vepris c.8) and 1-seeded
fruit (Vepris 4-seeded).
Five species of Teclea are known from Zimbabwe. We first looked at Teclea
trichocarpa (the Furry-fruited Teclea). Tom mentioned that this occurs
in the SE of Zimbabwe in places where there is extra moisture, for example
the Nyoni Hills. The specimen in the Gardens was quite a large shrub.
As the common name implies, it has velvety-hairy fruits.
Also discussed by Tom, but not seen, was Teclea fischeri, a compact shrub
with small leaves, which occurs in the N of Zimbabwe. Later we looked
at some specimens of Teclea rogersii, which is the shrubby species the
Society revisited recently in the riverine vegetation by the Mazowe River
at Christon Bank. Elsewhere it is typically riverine and at medium altitudes,
occurring for example at the Victoria Fans.
Teclea nobilis (Small-fruited Teclea) is an under¬storey species of
dry forest. It has quite large 3-foliolate leaves which have a leathery
texture and is confined to the eastern districts. For completeness, one
might also mention the only other Teclea in Zimbabwe, which is Teclea
myrei (the Oval-fruited Teclea) which occurs in the SE of Zimbabwe.
On next to the closely-related genus Vepris. Vepris reflexa (Woodland
Vepris) is a dioecious species with relatively large shiny leaves. Its
dis¬tribution is scattered from the Matopos to the Limpopo escarpment
and in the N of Zimbabwe – it is local and rarely seen.
Vepris zambesiaca (the so-called Rare woodland Vepris) is a hairy-leaved
species with a winged petiole occurring typically as a small shrub around
the base of mopane. It occurs sporadically at medium altitudes.
Tom mentioned only two Vepris spp., but I have one more, namely Vepris
drummondii. According to Flora Zambesiaca, this has 1-foliolate leaves
(i.e. it appears to be simple-leaved) and is an evergreen shrub collected
from Mt Pene.
Next, the plants with pinnate leaves.
Citropsis daweana (the Wild citrus) is easily recog¬nised by its leaves
with a markedly winged rhachis. It is also armed with spines, has creamy
or pale yellow flowers and spherical fruits. It occurs at lower altitudes
mainly in the Zambezi Valley where it is to be found in Jesse or near
Jesse or in riverine habitats.
Fagaropsis angolensis is one of the species with softly hairy opposite
leaves. It is a forest edge species and also occurs in woodland in high
rainfall areas – the Society quite often sees it in our trips to
the Marondera and Hwedza areas.
Clausena anisata is a forest understorey and forest edge species of high
rainfall areas, commonest in the eastern districts but also occurring
on the outliers.
The genus Zanthoxylum was briefly touched upon. Tom showed us Zanthoxylum
chalybeum (Kundanyoka knobwood) a fairly frequently-seen species in Mashonaland,
occurring often on anthills.
Finally, to complete this survey of Zimbabwean Rutaceae, one might also
mention two exotics. One is Casimiroa edulis (the Mexican apple), which
is an exotic tree, commonly grown for its edible fruit and seen as an
escape from time to time in higher rainfall areas. We have also seen a
species of Murraya probably a relic of cultivation in riverine vegetation
at Greystone Park Nature Reserve.
All in all, a very useful and interesting session in which I certainly
learned a lot about the less well-known species in this family.
CHABWENO FARM: 16 APRIL 2000
The Mashonaland Branch enjoyed a day's outing to Chabweno Farm, on the
Shamva Road in the beautiful Enterprise Valley, as the guests of Peter
and Teig Howson. Fortunately the area was free from disturb¬ances
that day, and over 20 members made the trip. It was a lovely sunny day,
and the air sparkled in the aftermath of 30 mm of rain that had fallen
the night before. It was the first Sunday outing for the members since
February, as the March trip had been can¬celled because of the fuel
After meeting at the tobacco barns on the main road, we proceeded to the
guest house and left half the vehicles there. A short walk in the vicinity
of the dam gave us a taste of the sort of vegetation we were to encounter,
and then we drove to the base of the rocky ridge that was our objective
for the morning. The road crossed the causeway below the wall, and the
cars appeared to plunge into a metre of water as they dipped below the
level of the dam, giving rise to anxious comments from passengers. We
drove past fields of yellow-flowering Sun Hemp, a species of Crotalaria
once widely used as a green manure crop before the days of chemical fertilizers
and now coming back into its own in organic farming systems. We left the
cars in the woodland at the foot of the ridge and walked, slowly of course,
up to the top, along the new road that had just been completed for our
benefit, led by the ever-knowledgeable Phil Haxen, back from Queens¬land.
The dominant tree in the area is Julbernardia globiflora, the Mnondo,
which is very distinctive at this time of the year with its crown of brown
pods displayed above the foliage. In the same family there were some fine
specimens of Brachystegia glaucescens, the ineptly named mountain acacia,
on the ridge. Other trees that stood out on the hillside were Hymenodictyon
floribundum, the fire bush, rather small but with striking orange to red
leaves, and Sterculia quinqueloba with its fat trunk and smooth silver
to pink bark. Patches of autumn coloured foliage were provided by some
small specimens of Kirkia acuminata and Commiphora mossambicensis; the
latter has distinctly peppery-scented leaves, in contrast to the very
similar Commiphora mollis.
Several species of trees were easily recognised by their prominent pods.
Pterocarpus angolensis showed off its hairy fried eggs, Combretum molle
and Combretum zeyheri distinct four-winged fruit, and Terminalia sericea
and Terminalia stenostachya flat, winged pods. The fruit of Combretum
zeyheri are much larger than those of the other members of the genus,
while Terminalia sericea has as its diagnostic feature peeling bark on
the smaller branchlets.
We compared the leaves of Cussonia arborea and Vitex payos. Although the
growth habits of the two species are so different, they both have large
compound leaves with five leaflets spreading fanlike from the end of the
petiole. Vitex payos, the chocolate berry, was in fruit, and the relative
flavours of the fruit and Charhons chocolate were discussed by the more
knowledgeable members of the party.
A feature of the ridge that we climbed was the large flat granite domes
interspersed with cracks in which a variety of plants were found. Water
trickled over the rock in some places. We could not agree on the name
of the species of Xerophyta that was present, although its fibrous stems
and tufted leaves were distinctive. Euphorbia griseola ssp. mashonica
shared the habitat with Euphorbia matabelensis. It is difficult to understand
how taxonomists can put these plants into the same genus; Euphorbia griseola
is a typical succulent with thin spiny branches, while Euphorbia matabelensis
is a conventional tree, easily recognised by its three-fold branching
zigzag habit and milky latex. Also present were specimens of Tapiphyllum
velutinum, which we had last seen on the Great Dyke in February and which
has distinctive crumpled velvety leaves; the velvety effect is produced
by a thick cover of hairs that helps to reduce water loss when humidity
is low. Elephantorrhiza goetzei with its compound feathery leaves, grew
as a fringe at the foot of the rocky outcrops.
The view over the farmland from the top of the ridge was magnificent,
and we came across some large specimens of Ficus glumosa along a stream
running down from the hills beyond the ridge. We were puzzled for a moment
by another thorn-less Acacia-like tree coppicing from a stump near the
top, and finally recognised it as Albizia tanganyicensis. It could have
been cut because it can be poisonous to livestock, although later Teig
told us that the tree was a victim of firewood gatherers.
On the way down to the cars we detoured into an outcrop large of large
granite boulders to view a small gallery of rock paintings in a crevice
guarded by some large Bequaertiodendron magalismontanum, the stem fruit,
which I always recognise by its leathery, strap-like discolourous leaves.
Back at the guest we enjoyed our picnic lunch in the garden. Many of the
party hurried back to town to watch cricket on their TVs. A few snoozed
in their deck chairs, “had a little read", and the hard core
wandered down to the river below the house, where I must admit the botanising
Our warm thanks to the Howsons for allowing us to visit their guest house,
complete with security guards, as a car park and a lunch site, and to
Teig in particular for guiding us on our walk.
Continuing ‘In Retrospect’ Msasa ‘bleeding’
In Tree Life No. 3 a question was asked about the cause of red gum from
three Msasa trees in a garden in Chinhoyi. A dead branch had been cut
off one of the ‘bleeding’ trees and this was found to be full
of ‘worms’, and the question was asked whether these ‘worms'
were connected with the 'bleeding' of red gum.
The answer was supplied in Tree Life No. 5 through information from Dr.
Phelps of the Zoology Dept at UZ. Longicorn beetles (family Cerambycidae)
are just one of the species of beetles that infest Msasa trees. They are
distinguished by very long antennae, sometimes longer than the beetle’s
body. The adult deposit eggs in the bark of the tree, and the larvae burrow
inwards feeding on the tree's tissue. However, another beetle of the family
Buprestidae, is a far more common parasite, and is probably responsible
for most of the ‘bleeding’ we see.
It is a small, slightly iridescent beetle with short antennae. Here again
it is the larvae that bore into the wood; these are comma-shaped, with
large head and curved body.
Some ‘bleeding’ is undoubtedly caused by the feeding of these
larvae, but the more profuse exudation of gum is often the result of a
bacterial or viral infection that begins at the entry point of the boring
larva. Whether the larva or the adult actually carries the infection to
the tree is uncertain, but thought likely.
Combretum for breakfast
Un-authored contribution from Tree Life No. 7 (0ctober 1980).
In a note in the South African journal The Ostrich Peter Steyn describes
how he saw the southern black tit, Parus niger, holding down on to a branch
winged fruits of the velvet-leaved Combretum, Combretum molle, with both
feet, pecking at them. He refers to another description by C. Schoute-Vanneck
in the Natal Bird Club News Sheet, which supplies detailed information.
He collected fruits from the ground, and in 85% of those that had been
pierced by the bird were silken threads and larvae droppings, indicating
that they had been infested by a parasite. He subsequently collected fruits
from this tree, and found that they contained fat white larvae about 5
mm long, later identified as the larvae of Chalcid wasps of the family
The southern black tit (Roberts 527) is a bird with a wide distribution,
said to “inhabit thick bush, mopane forest, and even quite scrubby
woodland, where it hunts about from ground level to the tree tops in search
of food. Nests are built at the bottom of holes in hollow trees or tree
[Comment 2000: in a more modern edition of Roberts (5th Edition, 1985)
the number of the southern black tit has been changed to 554, and the
habitat is described as “almost any woodland, gardens, dense thornveld,
edges of evergreen, exotic plantations.]
The Importance of Recording Observations
A note by GH in Tree Life No. 7 (October 1980).
Object (E) of the Tree Society is “to collect and encourage collection
of all forms of information relating to trees, and to publish it by all
We are currently inviting members to so contribute their observations
for publication. Some, I feel, think their contributions are of little
interest, and I would like to quote an extract from that famous naturalist/diarist,
Gilbert White of Selborne, who recorded in 1788.
“One of my neighbours shot a ring dove on an evening as it was returning
from feed and going to roost. When his wife had picked and drawn it she
found the craw stuffed with the most nice and tender turnip tops. These
she washed and boiled and so sat down to a choice and delicate plate of
greens culled and provided in this extraordinary manner. Hence we may
see that granivorous birds when grain fails, can subsist on the leaves
White’s contemporaries may well have been excused for saying he
was wasting his time, and I dread to think what his ecclesiastical superior’s
opinion of his natural history writings must have been. But apart from
the great pleasure his book has given to countless readers since then,
the above quotation, with the facts it recorded, was of great value to
a scientific/agricultural study on the habits of the pigeons two centuries
[Comment 2000: Gilbert White (1720-1793) was an English clergyman and
naturalist noted for his The Natural History of Selborne, which was first
published in 1789. By 1988 no less than 90 additional editions had been
published – the work of different editors, and produced in different
languages, including Danish, English, German, Japanese (3 editions) and
Swedish. A search through the 1988 edition, edited by Richard Mabey, failed
to turn up White’s observation quoted above, which is hardly surprising
because the last of White’s letters included in this edition was
dated June 25, 1787.]
Lyn Mullin ‘In Retrospect’ will be continued.
A SHANGAAN AND HIS TREES – FROM HARTEBEEST No. 6 1974 (CONTINUED)
Julias Manavele, son of Manavele, is a Shangaan of the lowveld and was
born about fifty-five years ago on the banks of the Makari River on Triangle,
where he is now attendant in charge of the High Syringa Game Park.
This list is the contribution from Tree Life No. 243 of the uses to which
trees are put, as described by Julias to Colin Saunders.
Euclea divinorum: no common name: Hlangula.
Water with crushed leaves is used to bath children as it brings out the
rash in measles.
Garcinia livingstonei: no common name: Himbi.
Sticks are used to stir porridge. Fruits are eaten.
Flacourtia indica: no common name: Tuza.
Wood is a second-class spoon material. Fruits are eaten.
Coffea racemosa: wild coffee: Pela.
Fruits are eaten.
Combretum apiculatum: rooibos: Chikukutsi.
Poles are used for making huts.
Combretum hereroense: no common name: Potsa.
Wood used for making axe and badza handles.
Combretum imberbe: leadwood: Monzo.
Poles used for making huts and for pounding grain. Ash used to make whitewash
Combretum mossambicense: no common name: Grawusika.
Flowers are eaten raw and are very sweet.
Balanites aegyptiaca: torchwood: Nulu
Crushed roots are thrown into water to chase fish into traps.
Dombeya rotundifolia: wild pear: Muluwati
Branches used to manufacture bows.
Gardenia ternifolia: wild gardenia: Chitsala
The wood is incandescent and is a favourite for fires – good light,
hot, keeps burning.
Acacia nigrescens: knob-thorn: Mukaya
Planks are cut from the trunk and used for doors. Also good for axe handles.
Acacia tortilis: umbrella thorn: Sesani
Fibres are stripped from branches and used in binding poles in hut building.
Berchemia discolor: bird plum: Nyiyi
Fruits are eaten. Dry bark is taken off, pounded until soft, water added,
then Ilala palm shoots and the mixture is boiled for 3-4 hours. This makes
a red paint.
Hyphaene natalensis: Ilala palm: Ihanga
A tree of many uses: hats, baskets, sieves and water pots are made from
fronds, which are also used for thatching. Ilala '‘wine'’
bled from the living tree, beer (huchema) from the fermenting fruits,
which are also eaten raw. Top part of stem cooked and eaten, tastes like
pumpkin. Dishes (huhlelo) also made from these trees, as are drums (ngoma).
Borassus aethiopum: Borassus palm: Brumo
Fruits are opened when they fall, either eaten raw, or boiled with water
to make porridge.
Phoenix reclinata: date palm: Ichindu
Fruits eaten, as is top part of stem, which is very sweet; leaves used
to make baskets, mats, dishes, and as thatching. Beer is made from fermented
Androstachys johnsonii: ironwood: Simbiri
Poles are used in building huts. Their sticks for whips and fishing rods.
Artabotrys brachypetalus: no common name: Titi
Fruits are eaten.
Cassia abbreviata: long-tailed cassia: Lumanyama
Bark is removed and pounded, put in containers, water is added, and the
concoction drunk to cure venereal disease. Note how many trees of this
species are severely scarred as a result.
Senna petersiana: dwarf cassia: Nembenembe
Roots are boiled with water, and liquid used to treat diarrhoea in children.
Commiphora mollis: cork-wood: Kuhunu
Wood used for manufacture of plates, and also for Shangaan piano (timbila).
Superficial bark is removed, dried in the sun, worked until soft, applied
to burns and then left until burns have healed. Fruit is in¬edible.
Dichrostachys cinerea: Chinese lantern: Tsenge (pl. mitsenge)
Seedpods collected for stock-food.
Dalbergia melanoxylon: no common name: Chilutsu
Tobacco containers and walking sticks made from wood.
Crossopteryx febrifuga: no common name: Kombegwa
The best material for spoon manufacture. Bark boiled and liquid drunk
to relieve abdominal pain.
THE LEMON-SCENTED BARK OF HILLSIDE PARK
As soon as the commonage had passed into the hands of the Council, a number
of plots on the flat area in the west, called Belvedere, bordered by the
Marimba, a strongly flowing stream, had been surveyed. There was a keen
demand by would-be leaseholders for the plots. Those on the river were
used for growing vegetables, those which were larger, and further away,
were kept for grazing. The lessees put up grass shelters for their cattle,
planted gum trees for shade, and sank wells… The success of this
venture led to plots on the Makabusi being surveyed in Hillside…
GH TANSER (1974) – A SEQUENCE OF TIME
It was on 4 February 1901 that the, then, Salisbury Town Council was
granted 20 000 acres (8 000 hectares) of Commonage by the British South
Africa administration, and the planting of eucalypts would have been done
in the rainy season of 1901-02 and 1902-03. Some of the former commonage
on either side of the Mukuvisi (Makabusi) river is today’s Hillside
Park, located between the suburbs of Hillside and Braeside, and bounded
east and west by Glenara Avenue South and Chiremba (Widdecombe) Road.
It was brought into Harare’s parks system in the 1950s.
Near the pedestrian gate into Hillside Park, at the intersection of Brooks
Drive and Yates Road, there are three specimens of lemon-scented gum,
Eucalyptus citriodora. Two of these trees are un¬remarkable, but the
third is probably the largest of its kind in Harare, and the tallest in
the whole of Zimbabwe. In October 1986, when it was aged 84-85 years,
it was 50 m tall, with a diameter of 1.14 m and a clear bole of 17 metres.
There are two other noteworthy lemon-scented gums in Zimbabwe. One stands
at the intersection of Prince Edward Street and Josiah Chinamano Avenue
in Harare. This is a large, open-crowned tree in the southwest corner
of a plot first registered in the name of WT Biddulph, who first took
possession on 29 September 1900. The tree was probably planted in the
rainy season of 1900-01, and it is remembered for its impressive size
in the mid-1920s by Prince Edward schoolboys of that time, who saw it
from across the street. In October 1986 it had a height of 31.5 m, a trunk
diameter of 1.02 m and a crown spread of 25 metres.
The second of the two is at Mount Selinda Mission at Chirinda Forest.
When the missionaries began planting exotic trees is not known, but eucalypts
must have featured at an early stage, for some very large ones stand in
the mission grounds today. One of these is a short-boled, heavily branched
lemon-scented gum showing in the open about 300 m to the south of the
old mission sawmill. In December 1986 it had a bole diameter of 1.52 m,
a rather modest height of only 33 m, and a crown diameter of 36 metres.
It is certainly not the best-formed lemon-scented gum in the country,
but it has the largest bole diameter of any of its kind.
Lemon-scented gum is a native of Queensland in Australia, where it occasionally
reaches a height of 50 m and a diameter of 1.2 m, so our tree in Hillside
Park is up with the best natural specimens. It is easily recognised by
its powdery white, sometimes pinkish, bark and the strong lemon scent
of the crushed leaves, a scent that is retained even in the dry, fallen
leaves at the base of the tree. The wood is hard and heavy, of good quality,
and its resilience makes it especially useful for tool handles. It belongs
to Eucalyptus subgenus Corymbia, which some Australian botanists have
elevated to the rank of genus. This move, however, is rejected by many
other Australian botanists.
Harare Committee Members
Andrew MacNaughtan Home 300035
Cell 091 315342
Mark Hyde Home 475263
Cell 091 233751
Rose Greig Home 490250
Lyn Mullin Home 747169
John Wilson Home 736700
Maureen Silva-Jones Home 740479
Cell 011 719601
Bulawayo Committee Members
Anthon Ellert Home 46586
Jonathan Timberlake Home 46529
Tessa Ball Home 46207
The Tree Society e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org