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Description A semi-deciduous to evergreen shrub
which can also grow into a small tree about 6 to 8 m in height; it is deciduous
to evergreen and has a flat crown. The bark is grey, rough and thick, and the
small branches have reddish brown lenticels (small, corky spots on the bark).
The leaves are spirally arranged in whorls of 3 and they are oblong to obovate,
25–120 x 15–40 mm, dark green above and paler green to silver underneath.
The flowers are small and white, arranged in axillary and
terminal clusters in the form of a slender pyramid of about 100 mm long which
occurs from January to May. The kidney-shaped fruits are about 7 x10 mm and
become black when mature, from February to September.
Distribution and habitat The broad-leaved resin tree is
distributed from tropical Africa through southern Mozambique and southeastern
Zimbabwe to northern KwaZulu-Natal. The variety elliptica occurs inland
in bushveld areas on rocky or loamy soils.
Name derivation and historical aspects The origin of the name Ozoroa is
unknown; obovata refers to the egg-shaped leaves with the widest point
being away from the stem.
Uses and cultural aspectsThe leaves are eaten by browsers (game animals that eat leaves) while the bark is chewed and eaten by elephants and the fruits are eaten by some bird species such as hornbills. The nectar produced by small spots on the green fruits is utilized by ants.
Uses and cultural aspects
Leaf poultices and leaf decoctions are widely used to treat septic wounds,
sores, bruises, backache and rheumatic joints. It is a traditional remedy for
snakebite.When placing traps for jackals and other wild animals, branches of Melianthus
comosus are used to wipe the ground to remove the smell of humans.
Distribution Melianthus comosus has a wide distribution, mainly in the dry interior
of South Africa. Its extends from Namibia to the North West Province, Gauteng
Province, Mpumalanga Province, Free State Province, Lesotho, Northern Cape
Province, Western Cape Province and Eastern Cape Province.
The brightly coloured red flowered petals produce an abundance of nectar that
attracts Sunbirds, Cape White Eyes, bees and butterflies.
Birds do not find the nectar-filled
flowers inviting, but butterflies do feed on them. Samango and vervet monkeys,
and rameron and olive pigeons, cinnamon doves and Cape parrots eat the seeds.
The larvae of several butterfly species, including the orange dog (Papilio
demodocus) which also uses other citrus family trees, breed on the foliage.
In a forest environment, this tree can reach heights of up to 20 m, but at
the forest margin or in the open it is shorter, approx. 7 m, with a more
spreading canopy. At the coast this tree is often evergreen, but inland it is
deciduous with rich yellow autumn colours. The flowers are large and striking,
faintly sweet-scented and carried in conspicuous terminal panicles during early
summer (October to December).
The timber is white
or light yellow, fairly hard but bends well and is easily worked. It is used
for tent bows, wagon-making, yokes, planking, shovel handles, and furniture,
and is considered one of the most generally useful hard woods. The bark is used
as an ingredient of skin ointments and is sold at traditional medicine markets.
Seeds are crushed and boiled to obtain oil that is suitable for making soap.
The Xhosa believe that the seeds have magic properties, and hunters used to tie
them around their wrists when hunting to bring them skill and good luck.
capense got its common name because William Burchell (1782-1863) thought
that the flower and fruit resembled the horse chestnut. It is, however, not
closely related to the chestnuts, Castanea species, which belong in the
Fagaceae, the beech & oak family. And Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828),
pupil of Linnaeus and the 'father of South African botany', was so excited at
the sight of a tree in flower when he visited Grootvaderbosch in 1772, that he
fired his gun at the branches until one broke and delivered the blooms into his
hand. He was the one who named it Calodendrum.
capense is a member of the Rutaceae, the buchu & citrus family, a
family of ±160 genera and ±1650 species that occur in warm temperate regions of
the world, with 22 genera and 290 species in southern Africa. One of the
diagnostic features of this family is the presence of oil glands on the leaves,
visible as tiny translucent dots when held up to the light. Another common
feature, caused by the oil, is the strong scent of the leaves, particularly
when they are crushed.
A beautiful flower which grows into a carpet and ideal for a garden. Plants grow to a height of about 30cm. Flowers almost all year round with a peak during the summer months. It has
finely divided leaves which give it a soft texture in the garden.
It occurs naturally in the southwestern and eastern parts of the country
where it can be found scrambling about through natural vegetation. It can be
grown in full sun or semi-shade, although it does flower better and form a
tighter carpet in full sun. Geranium incanum can be used very
effectively on banks or as a colourful border plant, it is also very attractive
when allowed to trail over retaining walls or garden pathways and steps. It is
also equally useful in mixed borders, pots or hanging baskets.
The word Geranium comes from the greek geranos which refers to
a crane as the seed capsule resembles that bird. The specific name makes reference
to a pale greyish-white colour possibly on the underside of the leaves.
This plant is used traditionally by both African people and Europeans to
make a medicinal tea from the leaves which is used to offer relief from certain
complaints such as bladder infections, venereal diseases, and conditions
relating to menstruation.
Ecology Nymania capensis is pollinated by bees and bumble bees. The seeds are
carried by the wind in the puffy capsules some distance away from the parent
plant. In most cases they are blown under small karroid-like bushes where they
will germinate once climatic conditions are suitable. Once sufficient rain has
fallen, the plants begin life under the protection of a the nurse plant which
is a small shrub or bush that gives protection to the young seedling whilst it
is vulnerable to harsh, exposed climatic conditions. As in many desert plants,
out of the thousands of seeds that germinate, only a very small fraction will
make it to adulthood. The plants generally grow slowly. Under ideal conditions
it may take three years for a plant to reach a length of 1.5 m. They may live
for more than twenty five years in their natural habitat.
Description A rigid shrub, attaining heights of
6 m under ideal conditions. However, its normal height is not more than 3 m.
The leaves are stiff and leathery in texture. The leaf shape is obolanceolate
(almost spear-shaped), tufted, and is on a short shoot. The flowers are
solitary and borne in the leaf axils. Flowers are dull red in colour; however, Nymania
capensis from the Richtersveld often has bright red flowers. Seeds are
produced in papery, inflated capsules, hence the name, Chinese lantern. The
seeds are pea-shaped, and brown colour.
Distribution Nymania capensis occurs in southern Namibia , the Richtersveld,
Namaqualand , Ceres Tanqua Karoo, Bushmanland, Worcester Robertson Karoo and
the Little Karoo. It favours hot, dry, rocky habitats, but also occurs near
dry, sandy rivers. Like so many other xerophytic plants (plants adapted to dry
conditions) in South Africa , they are water misers. They grow predominately in
the winter rainfall areas that receive little more than 120 mm annually. They
are relatively frost tolerant, being able to survive temperatures of - 4°C.
They can also survive in extreme heat, 44°C and above!
Derivation of name and historical aspects This genus is named after the
Swedish botanist Carl Fredrik Nyman (1820-1893). The specific epithet capensis
indicates that the plant comes from the Cape.
The genus consists of 154 species, which have a distribution mainly across the
Flora of southern Africa area. There are 141 South African species
alone, of which 81 are endemic to South Africa (occuring in South Africa only).