For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

White Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme)

Family Sapotaceae
Status
Sideroxylon inerme is widespread on mountains and is not an endangered species. It is, however, one of South Africa's Protected Trees, which means that no milkwood may be damaged, moved or felled.

Distribution
This species is commonly found in dune forests, almost always in coastal woodlands and also in littoral forests (forests along the sea shore). It also occurs further inland in Zimbabwe and Gauteng.
 Description
A small to medium evergreen tree, which grows to a height of 10-15 m. The tree has a sturdy trunk that is normally 600mm in diameter, and a large, dense, rounded crown. The bark is normally grey-brown to black. Young branches are always covered with fine hairs. The leaves are leathery and spirally arranged, dark green above and dull beneath. Fine hairs are also found on young leaves. The tree has small greenish white flowers with a strong, unpleasant smell. It flowers during summer and autumn (November to April). Fruits are purplish black, small, round and fleshy and like the leaves, contain milky latex, and are present from late summer to spring (February to September).
 Historical aspects
Sideroxylon inerme is a protected species in South Africa. Three specimens have been proclaimed National Monuments. One of these is situated in Mossel Bay and is called the 'Post Office Tree'. Portuguese soldiers in 1500 tied a shoe containing a letter on the tree, describing the drowning at sea of the famous Bartholomew Dias. This tree is said to be 600 years old. Another renowned specimen is the 'Treaty Tree' in Woodstock, Cape Town . Next to this tree stood a small house where the commander of local defences handed over the Cape to the British in 1806. The third National Monument is a tree called 'Fingo Milkwood Tree' near Peddie in the Eastern Cape. The Fingo people affirmed their loyalty to God and the British king under the tree after English soldiers led them to safety when Chief Hintza and his warriors pursued them.
 Ecology
Speckled mousebirds eat flowers. Birds, bats, monkeys and bush pigs eat the fruit.

Uses
Bark and roots have medicinal value and are used to cure broken bones, to treat fevers, to dispel bad dreams, and to treat gall sickness in stock. The wood of the tree is said to very hard and fine-grained and is used as timber for building boats, bridges and mills. Ripe purple-black berries are said to be edible, with purple, juicy flesh and sticky white juice.