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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Camel Thorn (Acacia erioloba)

Family Fabaceae
This species is widely distributed inland, from the Northern Cape through to Limpopo Province. It also extends to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and to central Africa.
The pods are useful fodder for cattle and are favoured by wild animals in Africa , especially elephants who chew the pods and disperse the seed in their dung. The timber is strong and is highly prized for firewood.

Dry powdered pods can be used to treat ear infections. The gum can be used for the treatment of gonorrhoea and the pulverized, burned bark can be used to treat headaches. The root can be used to treat toothache. To treat tuberculosis, the root is boiled for a few minutes and the infusion is swirled around in the mouth and spat out.

It is believed that lightning will strike at the Acacia erioloba more readily than other trees. The seeds can be roasted and used as a substitute for coffee; the gum is also eaten by humans as well as animals. The root bark is used by the Bushmen to make quivers. Many wild animals love to eat the pods and will rest in the dense shade, in the heat of the African sun.
The camel thorn is a competitive species that can displace preferred vegetation. It has been assessed as potentially very highly invasive in Australia : climate predictions indicate that it could occupy large inland areas of northern Australia if allowed to spread.

This is a relict of the parental stock of African Acacia species and is one of the major trees, and frequently the only sizeable tree of the deserts of southern Africa . It is a long-lived plant that grows on sand in areas with an annual rainfall of less than 40 mm to 900 mm, and tolerates hot summer temperatures and severe frosts. In very dry areas Acacia erioloba occurs along watercourses or where underground water is present. The taproot can descend to 60 m, providing access to deep ground water.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Karoo Kuni Bush (Searsia burchellii)

Family Anacardiaceae
This is is a branched shrub of up to 5 m in the arid western inland parts of South Africa. The trifoliolate leaflets are crowded at the ends of dwarf spur-branchlets. Leaflets are obovate, leathery, hairless and olive green. The central vein protrudes a little on both surfaces. The leaflet apices are square or notched. The flowers appear in terminal or axillary heads in autumn. The fruits are slightly flattened and reddish brown.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wild Sunflower (Verbesina enceliodes)

Family Asteraceae
 An invasive species which grows to about 1m in height.
 When flowering, it is full of insects of all kinds harvesting the pollen.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bird Plum (Berchemia discolor)

Family Rhamnaceae
No information available. It might get ts name from the size of the "plums" on it as they are only a mouthful for them. :)
A large tree of about 6m found in the Pundu Maria region of Kruger National Park.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Karmedik (Macledium spinosum)

Family Asteraceae
A smallish plant of about 40cm in height found growing in the Karoo National Park.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Skunkbush (Chaenostoma pauciflora)

Family Scrophulariaceae
Such a pretty bush to have such a stinky name. :)
About 40cm in height and found growing in Karoo National Park.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rooikrans Wattle (Acacia cyclops)

Family Mimosoideae
A tree of about 4m in height found growing in the Warmwaterberg region of the Cape.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Monechma incanum

Family Acanthaceae
A small plant of about 50cm in height found growing in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Springbokopslag (Indigofera alternans)

Family Fabaceae 
The species is widespread in SA and found most often along the side of roads. A creeper with small flowers and covered with fine hairs. It does not have an English name.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Common Corkwood (Commiphora pyracanthoides)

Family Burseraceae
Corkwood trees are typical of arid and hot landscapes and fulfil an important role in providing moisture and food in such inhospitable areas. The flowers are pollinated by small insects and the fruit are eaten by birds and small mammals. Many species of corkwood store water in the swollen lower part of their stems and these are utilized by animals for the moisture. The leaves of some species are browsed by game.
The gum-like resin has a strong taste, and is probably a deterrent to excessive damage.

Some Commiphora species are favoured by elephants and in some areas the trees are destroyed in great numbers. In the Mapungubwe National Park, in northern Limpopo Province, for example, the damage to these trees is severe. Often the very old trees are targeted and almost destroyed completely.
Corkwoods are multi-stemmed shrubs or trees with stems branching repeatedly at ground level, or trees with a single upright stem, often spiny, with smooth or papery bark. Species from arid areas often have a swollen, nearly succulent trunk. Branchlets are often spine-tipped. Leaves vary between simple and compound, 1- to 3-foliolate or pinnate. Small white inconspicuous flowers are produced in axillary panicles or on dwarf lateral shoots. The sexes are separate with different male and female trees. All parts of the flower are in fours. Round or ovoid fruits with thin flesh are produced. The fruits split into two sections when ripe, revealing the stone (seed) with a brightly coloured fleshy appendage (the pseudo-aril).
The corkwoods are a fascinating group of trees, because of their bizarre appearance, but more importantly for their historical and biblical association as providers of the earliest healing balms and fragrances.

The fact that many Commiphora species exude a resin with a pleasant odour and healing properties has been known since ancient times. Best known are the plants that produce myrrh and balm. Myrrh from Commiphora myrrha is mentioned in the Bible as one of the three gifts presented to the Christ child by the Wise Men. Commiphora gileadensis relates to the ‘Balm of Gilead', which was used for its fragrance as well as healing properties.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gemsbok Cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus)

Family Cucurbitaceae
A creeper of the cucumber family found growing in arid regions.
The fruit is almost white when ripe and the size of an orange.
The fruit is edible to humans, game and cattle and has a sour-sweet taste. Unripe fruit can cause a burning sensation to mouth and lips.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIld Pride of India (Galpinia transvaalica)

Family Lythraceae
Distribution and Habitat
It occurs in low to medium altitudes in woodland and thickets from Zululand and Swaziland to Mpumalanga and Limpopo. This plant is an important fodder plant on cattle and game farms. The bunches of white flowers attract many insect species.
Galpinia transvaalica grows up to 6 m in height and is a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree. The stems are often crooked and the branches lie low. The bark is smooth and pale when young, but has a rough appearance and cracks into blocks when the tree is older.

The leaves are simple, opposite and have a glossy, dark to almost black appearance. They are 20-60 x 15-30 mm in size. The leaf apex is rounded and often notched; the margin is entire and noticeably wavy and the petioles are thick and thickset. Young leaves are coppery to reddish. The tree is very attractive in spring when the old leaves turn red before dropping and the coloured new leaves emerge. In late spring the tree may show a few red leaves hidden amongst the shiny new green foliage.

The flowers are white, up to 13 mm in diameter and borne in dense sprays at the end of branches. The bisexual floral parts occur in fives or sixes. The calyx is bell-shaped and divides into ovate lobes. The petals are crinkly, the ovary 2-chambered and the stamens are attached to the calyx tube. Flowers are present from November to May.
The fruit is a small, round capsule and 3-4 mm wide. It forms compact clusters that are reddish brown to black and is covered with a hard rind, which splits open to release winged seeds. Fruit appear from April to July
The hard wood is heavy, pale brown to yellowish brown. Antelope, elephant and giraffe browse the leaves. It is an important fodder plant on cattle and game farms. The flowers also attract flies and butterflies and this in turn attracts many insect-eating birds.
Uses and cultural aspects
This tree has good horticultural potential and is quite attractive as a hedge plant. It has a non-aggressive root system and can be planted close to walls and paved areas. The wild pride-of- India can be successfully planted in containers and makes excellent bonsai specimens.