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Brachylaena discolor

(Wild Silver Oak)

These medium sized evergreen trees are frost resistant, drought resistant and are happy in the sun or the shade. It tolerates poor soil and coastal winds so is useful to stabilize sand dunes at the coast.The cream flowers are rich in nectar and open in summer. They attract birds like the shrikes and the orioles, butterflies and mammals. The leaves are browsed by Nyala, Bushbuck,Diuker and the Black Rhino strip the bark. The early settlers burnt them and used the ash to make soap whereas the Zulu diviners use the stems and roots to communicate with their ancestors. It is used medicinally as the leaves are pounded and ingested for intestinal parasite and roundworm. discolor means varying in colour which refers to the dark upper leaf and the silver under leaf. It is also used as a tonic for diabetes. The wood is used for carving, boat and hut making, fencing and spear shafts. It has non-aggressive roots so can be planted 3 meters walls or in pots. It is also useful as a hedge or windbreak.

Sansevieria hyacinthoides

(African Bowstring Hemp)

This is an extremely durable and tough plant with long, linear leaves, often with light green contrasting horizontal markings. It will grow in full sun but is far more vigorous and attractive grown in shade. It makes a large stem of long, narrow blooms, followed by orange fruit in summer. The leaves of Sanseveria are cut and heated and the leaf sap is dripped into the ear for earache and toothache.The root is used to treat haemorrhoids, and internal parasites. Chopped root is boiled, cooled and then strained and the liquid is drunk for preventing a miscarriage and easing childbirth. It is also drunk to provide protection from being bewitched. The leaf is pounded and twisted to reveal a strong and durable twine which is used for baskets, mats, hunters bows, snares and fishing nets. It can also be used to make paper. These plants have been exported overseas for years. It is an ideal plant for indoor containers as it purifies the air. The discoverer of the Sansevieria, Vincenzo Petanga wanted this plant named after Pietro Antonio Sansevierino (1724-1771) who established a garden of rare and exotic plants in the south of Italy but Carl Thunberg named it after Raimondo di Sangro (1710-1771) an Italian nobleman, inventor, soldier, writer and scientist.

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