Moholoholo Ya Mati Blog 30 September 2017

Moholoholo Ya Mati Blog 30 September 2017

The Knob-Thorn Tree:

The Knob-thorn is a slow-growing, medium to tall tree reaching heights of between 8 – 20 metres. It is found growing from the wooded grasslands of the lowveld in Southern Africa to as far north as Tanzania, surviving in many different soil types. The tallest trees of this species are always found on flood plains. The Knob-thorn has a straight, upright trunk, with ascending branches forming a rounded canopy that spreads with age. The bark is dark and thickens, forming knobs several millimetres apart equipped with small black hooked thorns. These thorny knobs are prominent on the newer branches of mature trees and on the trunks of young trees, offering some protection against browsing animals such as elephants. The knobs are very conspicuous, making the Knob-thorn tree easy to identify.

The Knob-thorn is a deciduous tree, being leafless in winter. Between August and November the tree flowers. What begins as 70-100mm long elongated spikes of buds at the end of branchlets in the canopy, finally turns into scented creamy-white pom poms of flowers, totally transforming the tree. Rounded, butterfly-like double compound leaves, the largest in any of the acacia species, form in late spring. The Knob-thorn bears fruit from January to July; long, thin pods which are initially a reddish-purple colour darkening to a dark brown. These pods fall to the ground before splitting open.

The trees are used by hole nesting bird species. The wood is hard and termite-resistant. It has been used to make posts and mine props. The species is drought-resistant but frost-tender. It also makes a good bonsai subject. It is a very hard timber which is very durable. It is not regularly used for furniture. It has exceptional impact toughness, thus good for Parquet flooring material.

A dozen interesting facts about the knob thorn:

• They occur as far north as Tanzania
• They prefer deep sandy soils that are well drained
• The knobs can sometimes be absent in individual trees
• Knob thorns make good bonsai specimens
• The Zulu name is umKhaya, and in Afrikaans, knoppiesdoring
• Acacia in Latin means “thorny” and originates from the Greek word akakia
• Nigrescens in Latin refers to the colour black.
• The flowers contain a considerable amount of condensed tannins
• They host the larvae of the dusky charaxes butterfly
• It almost always has a single trunk
• It is seldom used for making furniture as the wood is difficult to work and cut
• It is a very good wood for making “jukskeie”

On the weather side temperatures started to become hotter but we still had a few days that was cold. We had some rain, 15mm, but on the down side of it we had also hail. The hail did a lot of damages to the local farmers around us.

After the rain the following day it was cleanup day. Raking up leaves and branches that was broken from the trees all over our gardens.