Thursday, 2 February 2017
Bome van die jaar:
Harige Blinkblaar Wag-‘n-bietjie / Hairy Buffalo Thorn-(Ziziphus mucronata)
Ziziphus mucronata, or as it is more frequently known, the wag-'n-bietjie tree represents life as we know it. The young twigs are zigzag, indicating that life is not always straightforward. Two thorns at the nodes are also significant; one facing backward represents where we come from and one facing forward, represents where we are going. Ziziphus mucronata is a small to medium-sized tree, 3-10(-20) m high; with a spreading canopy. The main stem is green and hairy when young; year old branches often zigzag; the bark is reddish brown or roughly mottled grey, cracked into small rectangular blocks, revealing a red and stringy under-surface. Young stems are reddish brown.
Geographic distribution: The buffalo thorn is distributed throughout the summer rainfall areas of sub-Saharan Africa, extending from South Africa northwards to Ethiopia and Arabia.
Ecology: Although the fruit of Ziziphus mucronata cannot be counted as very tasty, the tree itself plays an important role ecologically. The leaves and fruit are sought after by birds of many species, wild animals and domestic stock. Giraffes are known to be especially fond of the leaves of this tree. Impala often feed on the dead leaves lying under the tree. Its inconspicuous, green to yellow flowers produce abundant nectar and often yield a good honey. While slow-growing (0.3 m or less per annum), it makes a pleasant shade tree and gives life to the garden by luring birds and insects such as butterflies, beetles and bees.
Ebbeboom / Ebony Tree (Euclea pseudebenus):
Afrikaans common name(s): Swartebbe, Valsebbehout, Tsabiboom, Ebbeboom, Ebbehout, Abikwa, Sabbiboom, Basterebbehout
English common name(s): Black ebony, Cape ebony, Wild ebony, False ebony
Trees 3-9 m high or occasionally shrubs, with characteristically drooping branches, trunks 8-30 cm in diam. with a rough, dark bark; branches drooping, virgate, little to much branched, bark grey, or yellow or reddish-brown, young parts densely glandular and sparsely hairy.
Euclea pseudebenus or ebony guarri is a remarkably drought-hardy and tough indigenous tree with a most graceful appearance contrasting its harsh and unforgiving natural enviro Distribution and habitat: Euclea pseudebenus is found in harsh, stony and sandy desert and semi-desert areas, usually in lowlying areas along watercourses, or fairly nearby. This species of tree is often the only surviving tree that is able to cope with the harsh desert conditions. The distribution of black-ebony is relatively wide and follows a northwesterly direction across its range. It starts to appear in northern Namaqualand, extending eastwards to Bushmanland where it hugs the Gariep River on both the South African and Namibian sides. It then continues throughout the southwestern, central and northwestern part of Namibia right into the Kaokoveld and across into the mountainous parts of southern Angola. It is by nature a desert plant, being happy with both winter and summer rainfall conditions. In terms of its cultivation Euclea pseudebenus would be well suited to arid and semi-arid regions, with hot, long summers, and given plenty of water, will thrive and grow faster than those in the wild.
Uses: Euclea pseudebenus is highly sought after for its excellent quality fire wood. It is also valuable as a general timber for building and carving, but since pieces are usually small, it is not used extensively. The heartwood is black, hard, heavy and durable, very similar to the true ebony, and is often used for inlay work, such as the black squares on chess boards. The Nama of Namibia call this tree the tsawib which refers to its ebony-like wood. A place in Namibia where numerous ebony guarri trees grow is called Tsawisis, named after the tree. The roots and twigs are sometimes used as chewing sticks to clean the teeth. The fruits are edible when ripe, said to taste sweet and slightly astringent.
Euclea pseudebenus is not popular in horticulture, although its value as a small drought hardy tree, cannot be over emphasized. In parts of South Africa where hot and fairly dry weather is experienced, this species would make excellent garden trees, as they would grow quicker in cultivation. They would be ideal as replacements to exotic trees which are still too common in our gardens.
Voël van die jaar:
Swartaasvoël / Lappet-faced
(Lappet-faced Vulture / Nubian Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos).
Aasvoëls is roofvoëls in die familie Aegypiidae wat van afval en aas lewe. Hulle is meesal groot voëls en het tipies 'n min of meer kaal kop. Navorsing het getoon dat hierdie veerlose koppe 'n belangrike rol mag speel in hitteregulering. Die kloue is nie baie sterk ontwikkel nie, maar die bek is kragtig en word gebruik om die vel van die dooie dier af te skeur. Die sig is baie sterk ontwikkel en die aas kan baie ver gewaar word. Een of twee eiers, na gelang van die soort, word gelê. Die nes, 'n platform van takkies, word in bome, op die grond of op kranslyste gebou. Aasvoëls word in alle wêrelddele aangetref, behalwe Antarktika en Oseanië. In suidelike Afrika is die naam vir 'n Swartaasvoël sinoniem met die term vir bemindes, aangesien hierdie aasvoëls altyd in pare aangetref word, die ma en jongeling bly in noue band met mekaar. Afparing, paar-assosiasie, beskerming en sorg word gesien as noodsaaklike eienskappe benewens die aasvoël se grootte en vermoë om hoog in die lug te sweef.
In die Wildtuin is die swartaasvoël die grootste en sterkste van sy soort. Hy word maklik uitgeken aan die diep persrooi kop en die los rooi nekvel, die massiewe snawel en die donker vere. Hy is die dominante figuur by ‘n karkas wat selfs met jakkalse en maraboes meeding om die sappigste happies, en hy sal nie skroom om na kleiner aasvoëls te pik as hulle nie gou genoeg padgee nie. Die swartaasvoël broei in die Wildtuin en kom oral voor.
Die swartaasvoël is reeds geruime tyd as kwesbaar gelys en sterftes neem steeds toe. Dit is die grootste spesie op die vasteland - die volwasse voël se vlerkspan is 'n nimlike 2,8m. Oor die laaste 12 jaar is 324 swartaasvoëls in die land gering waarvan 'n skrale 24 weer gesien is.