Arbor Week 2021

ARBOR WEEK 2021

National Arbor Week in South Africa is celebrated annually during the first week of September. It is a time when people of all ages are encouraged to celebrate the beauty and importance of trees, particularly our beautiful indigenous tree species.

With this in mind, two trees are usually highlighted each year as Tree of the Year – one common and one rare species. This list has now been adapted to draw attention to three indigenous trees, i.e.

  1. Common Tree of the year, which is a species or genus that is generally easier to grow and occurs more widely.
  2. Tree for Promotion which is a tree species or genus that is perhaps less widely adapted, yet is not uncommon and generally commercially available.
  3. Tree for Appreciation which is a tree species or genus that is generally more restricted in its distribution or requires very specific growing conditions.

So, without further ado, let’s focus on the indigenous marvels that have been singled out for 2021.

Common Tree: Vachellia karroo (Previously Acacia karroo)

Common names: Sweet Thorn, Soetdoring, mookana, mooka, umuNga

  • Description: Deciduous (in areas with cold, dry winters) tree
  • Position: Full sun
  • Size: Medium (up to 12m)
  • Hardiness: Frost hardy
  • Watering needs: Water young trees deeply and regularly. Drought resistant once established.
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Flowers: Bright yellow, pom pom flowers are borne throughout summer.
  • Fruit & Seed: Large, brown seed pods follow the flowers in autumn.
  • Use: An excellent shade tree with a lovely canopy and a very ornamental specimen in the larger garden. The roots are invasive, so don’t plant near walls and paving. The tannin in the bark is used to tan leather. The flowers produce an abundance of nectar and pollen for bee keepers.
  • Environmental: The sweet-smelling flowers attract bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. The caterpillars of 10 species of butterflies are dependent on the Sweet Thorn for survival. Birds like to nest in these trees as the thorns offer them protection from predators.

Interesting to know: Throughout our history this tree has been used extensively for all sorts of things from sewing needles and pins to creating fences for the houses of royal Zulu women. It was also a welcome sight to travelers as it was a sure indication of water in dry areas.

Ernest Ullmann

Walter Sisulu

Promotional Tree: Portulacaria afra

Common names: Elephant’s food, Spekboom, iNtelezi, isiDondwane, isAmbilane, iNdibili, isiCococo, iGqwanitsha

  • Type: Evergreen succulent shrub
  • Position: Sun / Semi-shade
  • Size: Will about 2m maximum in the normal garden situation
  • Hardiness: Moderately frost hardy
  • Watering needs: Low
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Flowers: Covered in small, pink, star-shaped flowers from late winter to early summer
  • Fruit: Inconspicuous, however the leaves are edible and widely enjoyed in salads or as a vegetable.
  • Use: The Spekboom can be used in rockeries and beds or to cultivate screens and clipped hedges. They look very attractive in pots on sunny patios and balconies and also make handsome and hardy bonsai.
  • Environmental: This little succulent tree enjoys international fame a carbon sponge and is also planted as a soil binder against soil erosion. The little flowers provide nectar to a variety of insects.

Interesting to know: The Pork bush can be a great standby and find for hikers as the high water content of the leaves can be used to quench thirst and so counter exhaustion and dehydration. The leaves can also be used to rub on blisters and corns on tired feet.

Pretoria Botanical Gardens

Tree for Appreciation: Warburgia salutaris

Common names: Pepper Bark Tree, Peperbasboom, isibhaba, manaka, shibaha

  • Description: Evergreen, slender tree
  • Position: Sun / Semi-shade
  • Size: Medium (about 7,5m)
  • Hardiness: Frost sensitive when young.
  • Watering needs: Moderate
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Flowers: Small, greenish-white flowers from mid-autumn to early winter.
  • Fruit & Seed: Purple, leathery berries from mid-winter to early summer.
  • Use: A very attractive specimen tree for small and large gardens, it can also be grown as a screen or hedge and successfully planted in pots.
  • Environmental: Warburgia is highlighted as tree of the year to promote its cultivation in gardens, as it is now an endangered species due to its overharvesting for medicinal purposes in the wild.

Interesting to know: The peppery stems and inner bark has a range of medicinal uses as expectorant and snuff against a variety of respiratory problems. Root bark is used as a cure for malaria.

Walter Sisulu

Walter Sisulu

Images courtesy of treesa.org

So, let’s get planting this Arbor Week! Even the smallest of gardens can be home to a tree. It will attract birds and other small wildlife to your garden. Trees act as a buffer from noisy roads, filter out dust and have a cooling effect on the garden and house as it deflects and absorbs radiant energy from the sun.

Trees are good for the soul. They are aesthetically pleasing and make us feel calm, serene and tranquil. We feel rooted, at home and a part of nature in the presence of a beautiful tree!

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With a hearty amount of exquisite plants, garden and home décor, accessories, hardware and tools; our team of passionate experts, creatives and enthusiasts collaborate to create the kind of environment where you come to feed your soul. Because to inspire the creative, the garden guru, the newbie, the young enthusiast and the passionate home owner – that is our lifestyle. The kind of lifestyle that is created in an attempt to ultimately help you to create and choose your lifestyle.

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