BOTSWANA HABITATS: TREES & FLORA - SAFARI GUIDE

Botswana Trees - info on the main trees found in the wildlife reserves.
Botswana

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The Sausage tree (Moporoto) is often referred to as the bush Christmas tree, as its long sausage type fruits decorate this lovely shade tree. It is advisable not to spend to long under these trees as these fruits weighing as much as 3 kg often come crashing to the ground. This tree is also used in the construction of Mokoro.

The Jackalberry trees (Mokotshong), are some of the biggest in the region, and are commonly used by the locals to make mekoros.

Baobab Tree

The Sausage tree is deemed holy by many tribes. It is said that hanging one of these fruits in ones hut will protect one from whirlwinds.The Real Fan Palm (Mokolane) fruit has a hard ivory coloured endosperm that is known as "Vegetable Ivory".

The elephant favours the Real fan palm fruits and this results in numbers of elephant visiting EIC in around August when these fruits ripen. The locals also brew a very wicked Palm Wine from this tree.

The African Mangosteen (Motsaodi) has a very dense branch and leaf structure and is a great sight for birds to nest such as the Green pigeon and also often home of the Flap-necked Chameleon.

A liqueur can be distilled from the fruits of the African Mangosteen by soaking them in alcohol and then thickening the extract with sugar syrup. The tree also yields an edible gum.

The Sycamore Fig (Motshaba) as with most other figs in the region relies on the services of a tiny wasp as its main source of propagation.

A concoction of the bark and latex of the Sycamore fig tree is used by the locals for chest ailments and sore throats.

Within the mixed Mopane broadleaf woodland found within the Khwai area, the five most common trees are the Leadwood, Large feverberry, Mopane, Knobthorn and Umbrella thorn.

The Leadwood (Motswiri) have a dense wood (air-dried 1200kg/m cubed) and as the name suggests it is very heavy and does not float. The ash serves can be used as toothpaste.

The Herero people regard the Leadwood tree as the great ancestor of all animals and people and never pass by the trees without paying it the necessary respect. This superstition most stems from the fact that the Leadwood can live up to 1000 years old.

The Large Fever-berry (Motsede) was so named because of its association with malaria; this was however proved not to be accurate. In fact it has been proved that the seeds have some anti-malarial properties (Dr. John Maberly).

The seed of the large fever-berry contain 50% oil; generally known as Croton oil and can be used as a very effective purgative. The locals also use it as a potent fish poison.

The Mopane (Mophane) tree leaves have important nutritional value containing high protein (12,6%). The browsing animals favour these leaves.

The Emperor Moth family lays its eggs on the Mopane tree. The larva feed on the leaves when they hatch and the locals feed on the larva, which they consider a delicacy.

The Knobthorn (Mokoba) is also referred to as the "wait-a-bit" tree because of its nasty hock thorn. This is not the tree you select to climb when being chased into the bush.

A parasitic herb known as "Mistletoe" is commonly found on branches of Knobthorn trees. The mistletoe flowers attract sunbird species like the Marico Sunbird.

The Umbrella Thorn Tree (Mosu) has a characteristic shape featured regularly on many African postcards. The pods are highly valued containing protein (18%), fat (2%), carbohydrates (46%), minerals (5%) and fibre (20%).

The Apple leaf/Raintree (Mopororo) also referred to, as the rain tree, because of the way its sap drips to the ground in the early morning, after an insect called the Froghopper, eats its leaves.

It is believed that carrying the twig from the Raintree in a pocket will assist one in attracting friends.

The Kalahari Apple leaf (Mohata) is very similar to its cousin the Apple Leaf. This species is, however, restricted to the deep sands of the Kalahari.

The Kalahari Apple Leaf makes for an excellent fodder tree, favoured by Kudu, giraffe and often eaten off the ground by Impala.

The Russet bush-willow (Mokabe) is a member of the Combretum family and has the characteristic four winged seeds found in this family. The seeds have the red colour that gives the tree its
name.

The russet bush-willow seeds can be used to make a herbal tea and an infusion of the roots is used to treat stomach disorders.

The Candle-pod acacia (Setshi) is not often referred to as a large tree. The major characteristic of this plant as its name would suggest, is the candle shape pod.

The Ovahimba in Namibia use a mixture of powdered root from the candle-pod acacia and fat, as a hair treatment. This tree has also been used as a leprosy remedy.