Trees of the African Bushveld - Blooming Beautiful

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It is common to overlook the finer details while out on a game drive in search of the 'famous five', but so much more enjoyment can be added to our safari experiences if we pay closer attention to every aspect of our surroundings.

Small creatures and plants can provide so much pleasure and insight into the magic of the nature around us, particularly in the summertime when the bush is alive with activity and life.

After the rains, which usually take place from December through to March, many of our trees emerge from their drab winter guise, putting on a magnificent show for those who investigate a little more closely.

Some of the larger trees are hard to overlook, such as the magnificent leadwood, Combretum imberbe, with its pale bark appearing like snake-skin from nearby. Closer inspection reveals delicate sweet-smelling flowers with a creamy hue.

The fragrant off-white blooms of the well-known Jackalberry, Diospyros mespiliformis, are also overshadowed by the large size of their host. During the dry season, flowers on the female tree mature into round fruits much favoured by jackals, hence the name.

The Wild Pear which is usually adorned with cream flowers, have been known to yield pink blossoms on occasion, while the acacia trees put on a fine display of creamy spikes from as early as October. Apart from their thorns, these trees are most easily recognised by these pale spike or ball-shaped blooms.

Weeping wattle, Peltophorum africanum, host a lovely show with their droopy yellow flowers and the sickle bush is resplendent in pink, white and yellow Chinese lantern-type flowers.

Most trees are covered in flowers before their summer foliage appears – this ensures a clear view of their bounty to attract insects and birds which are so vital to their pollination. Once the deed has been done, summer leaves start to make an appearance.

Others, lacking extravagant floral arrangements, or looking to attract nocturnal visitors such as moths, use scent to attract pollinators just as effectively. These smaller flowers are usually clustered together to protect them from wind and to maximise the effect of their fragrance, which is most obvious at night.

Many smaller plants are also in bloom from spring into summer, such as the barlaria, senecio, crossandra and kleinia fulgens - look out for splashes of mauve, blue, yellow and red in the undergrowth.


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Thursday, 15 November 2018