Elephantorrhiza elephantina … now there’s a mouthful for you..

Eland’s bean, elands wattle, elephant’s root (Eng); baswortel, elandsboontjie leerbossie looiersbontjie and olifantswortel (Afrikaans) 

I know that some call me a bit of a “tree huger” but this would be one very difficult tree to hug…. But yes, I am a bit of a tree huger and hate seeing plants being destroyed unnecessarily…

A recent walk around the Sishen golf course caused my faith in plant protection to be renewed… somehow this plant is doing well and if anything increasing in the area. As the course is within a forest of protected trees (Camel Thorn Vachellia erioloba ) it was great to see many outcrops of the plant or tree…

Underground trees??? Sound like a misnomer??? Not so, they do exist and this is one… walking amid the stems that grow above ground gives one the feeling of walking on the canopy of a very old large tree….


Perennial suffrutex (Low-growing woody shrub or perennial with woody base) produces unbranched, unarmed, aerial stems up to 0.9 m high. It is these stems that represent the canopy of the much larger tree which is growing below ground… Now how do you hug a tree that is below ground.??


This plant when I first came across it in the Steelpoort area was listed as “threatened” on the Red Data List, but has now been categorised as LC (least concerned).. It was thought to be threatened because of its medicinal uses, but studies have now shown it has withstood the test of time better than what was first expected….



The flowers grow in clusters near the ground and even in some cases protruding from the ground.. it flowers from September to November and has never relied on rain, the pods are dark or reddish-brown…


Although considered least concerned on the Red Data List… it is important to realise that when a stand is destroyed, regeneration is not always forthcoming… this is not a weed, yet it is often wrongly identified as “Black Wattle” (Acacia mearnsii) and destroyed as unwanted…

The medicinal uses of this plant by the local tribal doctors is thought of as a remedy for dysentery, diarrhoea, stopping bleeding, treating intestinal disorders, hemorrhoids, heart ailments and syphilis..

A Few Plants at Augrabies…(9)

It’s a desert, and they have had a drop or two of rain… but on my walk about’ I did not expect to find flowering plants…

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And then I found these flowering plants the first with hundreds of butterflies paying a lot of attention to it….

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The second, a bush with very little leaves but the most beautiful flowers…..

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And then this… what does one expect from a desert…????

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The Kokerboom … giant aloe (Aloe dichotoma)..

The most characteristic plant in the park is the giant aloe, known locally as the quiver tree or kokerboom. It is perfectly adapted to the dry semi-desert rocky areas found in the Nama-Karoo, able to withstand the extreme temperatures and the infertile soil. This tree, which grows up to five metres high, gets its name from the fact that the Bushmen (San) used the soft branches to make quivers for their arrows. The eye-catching silhouette of the quiver tree is typical of the Northern Cape landscape. When the tree flowers in the winter flocks of birds are attracted to their copious nectar, and baboons can be seen tearing the flowers apart to get the sweet liquor.

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Australian Silver-oak.. or Silky-oak…

Grevillea robusta, commonly known as the southern silky oak or Silky-oak, or Australian Silver-oak.

It’s a native of Australia, it’s a fast growing evergreen tree, between 18–35 m tall with dark green delicately dented bipinnatifid leaves similar in a way to a fern frond. It is the largest plant in the Grevillea genus, and it can reach a diameter in excess of one metre. The leaves are generally 15–30 cm long with greyish white or rusty undersides. Its flowers are golden-orange bottlebrush-like blooms, between 8–15 cm long in the spring, situated on a 2–3 cm long stem and are used for honey production.

The timber from this tree was widely used for external window joinery as it is resistant to rotting. It was also popular for making furniture.

The flowers and fruit contain toxic hydrogen cyanide.

A tree is flowering at the moment and I took a few close ups of the flower and one can see the sweet nectar on the blooms…

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Camel Thorn Tree… an endangered or protected tree.

ACACIA ERIOLOBA the Camel Thorn tree of Western South Africa. The tree is found in a small town called Kathu, the mining town of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The town was built in a forest of these trees and none have been removed without permission from the Environmental Conservation Department. The tree is only found in South Anglo, Namibia, Botswana, Western Zimbabwe and Northern province of RSA.

The specie first gained its protected status in 1941, which is still in place today.

The law under section 12 of Act No. 84 of 1998 states that if a tree species is declared protected, “No person may (a) cut, disturb, damage, destroy or remove any protected tree; or (b) collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate or in any other manner acquire or dispose of any protected tree, except under a licence granted by the Minister.”

The act does not distinguish between dead and live trees, so even removal of a dead specimens is illegal without a permit.

The Sishen Golf Club meanders through the forest and is a stunning example of the environment and progress working hand in hand. Here are photos of the tree.

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The branches of the tree show a slow growth pattern and have interesting twists and turn. The bark also shows magnificent patterns and differs from tree to tree. The seed pods are eaten by the Giraffe that easily reaches the higher branches where it can also feed off the leaves. The pods when fallen off the tree are eaten by Rhino, Eland, Elephant, Gemsbok and Kudu. The seeds within the pods are so strong they can with stand the chewing of the animals and pass through where they are often found germinating in the dung of these animals….























The tree does have one parasite that can penetrate the hard seed and that is the Bruchid beetle. Bruchid larval infestation begins early in seed development, before maturation and dispersal. Larvae develop inside seeds, pupating and emerging as adults, unless seeds are destroyed or consumed by mammals. Below are photos of a seed that has been infested as can be seen by the small holes in the pod, as well as a seed where the larva has already vacated its developing spot….