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Cussonia paniculata

(Highveld Cabbage Tree)

This small evergreen tree is drought resistant and grows in the sun. It is not suitable for coastal gardens. The green flowers open in Summer and they attract numerous insects, which in turn entice the insect eating birds. This structural tree has thick stems and drooping grey leaves and it attracts birds, butterflies and the Emperor Moth. The leaves are browsed by game like kudu as well a cattle and goats. The baboons and birds eat the seeds. The thick, aggressive, tuberous roots are peeled and eaten raw as an emergency food or as a source of water. It has medicinal properties as a decoction of the leaf is used to treat mental disease. Is ideal for a small garden provided that it is not planted closer than 5 meters from a wall as it has aggressive roots. Named for Pierre Cusson 1727-1783 who was a French Jesuit, mathematician, physician, professor and botanist who travelled extensively and wrote many publications. Paniculata refers to the flowers that are arranged in a loose cluster. Plant as an accent plant in a large garden, or in a rockery amongst Aloes and succulents a the grey foliage is a lovely contrast.

Cussonia spicata

(Common Cabbage Tree)

This small evergreen tree is fast growing in the sun. The green/yellow flowers open in Autumn. This decorative tree is a lovely form plant with bright green leaves crowded at the tips of the branches and long bare stems. The fruit are fleshy and purple when ripe and they attract birds and butterflies. Ideal for a small garden but it does have aggressive roots so don’t plant less than 5 meters from a wall or a pool. It requires good drainage and thrives on lots of compost. The Leaves are browsed by elephant and kudu and people eat the roots to obtain moisture. The roots and bark are also eaten by black rhino, baboon and bushpigs. It is frost tender in cold gardens. An infusion of the root is used medicinally for malaria, stomach complaints and V D. The roots are also chewed for virility and strength. They taste similar to sugar cane. The grated bark is used in hot water to make a poultice for cramp and muscle spasm. This solution is also used to bath newborn babies to ensure a strong child and prevent skin rashes and pimples. Some folk believe that it one is planted near the homestead, it will ensure fat, healthy children. Dried flowers are added to snuff. The leaves are used as a fish poison but are palatable to cattle and goats. Named for Pierre Cusson 1727-1783 who was a French Jesuit, mathematician, physician, professor and botanist who traveled extensively and wrote many publications.

Leucosidea sericea

(Ouhout)

Ouhout. Troutwood is a perfect name as it occurs along rivers where trout are found. The “Ouhout” refers to the bark which looks old even at a young age. It grows to about 4 meters, is evergreen and is fast growing if it has enough water. It is useful for nesting and attracts butterflies and insects. It is said to have aggressive roots, but I have not experienced that.The margins of the leaflets are deeply serrated. The crushed leaves have a strong herb-like smell. The flowers are greenish-yellow in colour, star-shaped, and grow in spikes at the ends of young shoots in spring. The fruits are nut-like. It usually grows in damp conditions, on deep, sandy or clay or rocky soil. It is frost resistant and it is ideal to use as a nurse tree to protect less frost hardy plants in winter. The tree is browsed and the wood burns slowly. It is also used to start fires. Useful used as fencing poles. It is used medicinally as the ground leaf paste is used for eye problems, a vermifuge and as a protective charm to protect people in the home. The name is derived from the Greek leukos=white; idea= appearance; referring to the overall hairiness of the leaves.

Strelitzia nicolai

(Natal Wild Banana)

This evergreen tree is medium sized and gives Kwazulu Natal it’s tropical feel as it grows profusely in the dune forests. It is a rapid grower and is happy in sun or semi-shade. The stunning purple/blue and cream flowers open in Spring/Summer and attract birds, the insect and nectar eaters, like the sunbirds. The flowers are eaten by monkeys. Tree frogs hibernate in the leaves and Banana bats roost in the leaves.It also attracts butterflies. It can be planted as a specimen plant or used for informal hedging/screening. It has very aggressive roots so don’t plant it near swimming pools or walls. We have one planted in a pot in the nursery to show the damage that the roots cause. It is used to make rope and the seeds are ground into flour and made into patties which are roasted. The seeds are also eaten by monkeys, Red-eyed doves, Redbilled Woodhoopoes, bulbuls, barbets and starlings. It is the larval host plant for the Banana-tree Nightfighter butterfly. Named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818) who married King George 111 of England in 1761 after being selected unseen from a list of German princesses. The marriage was a great success and King George was devoted to her. She cared for him during his long slide into insanity though terrified by his occasional outbursts of violence. She was an amateur botanist who helped expand Kew Gardens. She died in 1818 and was buried in St George's Chapel in Windsor

Tarchonanthus camphoratus

(Camphor Bush)

Tarchonanthus camphorates is a small evergreen tree which is frost resistant, drought resistant and fast growing in the sun. It is extremely tough and will withstand coastal, salty wind. The cream flowers occur in autumn and they attract butterflies. They are followed by attractive, strongly scented fruit which is a small seed covered by woolly white hairs which look rather like cotton wool balls. Birds use these for lining their nests. It is a fodder tree utilized by giraffe, black wildebeest, grey duiker, eland, kudu, sable antelope, nyala, impala and springbok. It’s also useful for hedging/screening, windbreak, soil erosion or as a bonsai. Do bear in mind that it has aggressive roots. The wood is termite proof and is used for musical instruments, fencing posts, fuel, boat building, basket struts and grain storage containers. The wood retains its camphor fragrance for a long time and is used as an insect repellent for clothing and foodstuff. It has medicinal properties as the leaves are made into a tea for asthma, anxiety, stomach aches and heartburn. Smoke from fresh or dried leaves is used to treat a headache and blocked sinuses. It is also used for toothache, a tonic for respiratory ailments and women use the fresh leaves to perfume their hair. The dried leaves are said to have a slightly narcotic effect when smoked. In days gone by the seeds were used to stuff pillows! Seeds, leaves and twigs are burnt to fumigate huts. This smoke is said to be good for sleeplessness, headaches and rheumatism. Crushed leaves are put into Vaseline to rub onto sore feet and for anointing the body during religious festivals. Leaves are also stuffed into hats to protect one from the mid day sun.This tough tree can withstand severe frost, drought and sea breezes. Plant it 6 meters from a building or a pond. The name is derived from the Greek tarchos=funeral rite; anthos = flower; presumably from the camphorous odour of the leaves as used in incense sticks in places of worship.

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