15 August 2013 by Lethabo-Thabo Royds and Andrea Weiss

Terrific trees of South Africa

Some of the most magnificent trees in the world can be found right here in South Africa, from beautiful baobabs to quirky quiver trees.

The Sunland baobab in Modjadjiskloof in Limpopo has a circumference of 30m. Photo courtesy of Pim Stouten

The Love South Africa group on Flickr is constantly updated with fantastic images taken all over the country. Why not share your pictures, too?

Each week we choose images from this group to share on our blog. This week we are celebrating the terrific trees found in South Africa.

South Africa's trees play an important role in the country's natural habitat, providing shelter and food for birds and wildlife. Some are also valued for their medicinal properties as well as for the myths that have inspired South Africans for generations.

Among the most magnificent trees to be found in this country are the baobabs (Adansonia digitata), which are found in the dry woodlands of Limpopo province.

Baobabs are truly magical trees. If they are burnt or stripped of their bark they simply form new bark and continue to grow. It is said that when they die, they leave only a heap of fibre, making it seem as though they did not die, but rather disappeared like some mystical creature. They are believed to live up to 3 000 years.

One of the more famous of these is a baobab found on Sunland farm. It's so large that the owners of the farm have constructed a bar inside the trunk.

Photo South African Tourism

In the more arid parts of the country, you'll find unusual tree species like the tree aloe (Aloe barbarae), which can grow to more than 10m in height. The flowers of these magnificent trees are much-favoured by sunbirds.

Photo courtesy of Henri Nidegger via Pierre_1700

Another tree typical of the drier western parts of the country, particularly the Northern Cape, is the quiver tree, which is also a type of aloe (Aloe dichotoma). They are called quiver trees because their hollow branches were once used as quivers by the San (or Bushmen) to store their hunting arrows.

Photo courtesy of Etwin Aslander aka Etwin1

In the Kalahari region of the country, including the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the camel-thorn tree (Acacia erioloba) dominates the landscape. These trees are favoured by sociable weavers that build their enormous nests in their branches.

Photo courtesy of James Price aka hilong2

In the eastern part of the country, on the Drakensberg escarpment of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, you'll find examples of the cabbage tree (Cussonia transvaalensis). Because it's a relatively small tree, growing to only about 5m in height, it's popular with gardeners.

Photo courtesy of Sheldrickfalls

Even further eastward, where the Kruger National Park is located, there is an even richer variety of trees, such as the leadwood, marula, jackalberry and apple-leaf, which are valued for their medicinal properties and the shade and food they provide. This landscape is known as bushveld, and no South African holiday album is complete without a beautiful sunset picture featuring some of these magnificent trees.

Photo courtesy of Sheldrickfalls

So next time you're travelling around South Africa, don't just look out for the Big Five. Take some time to admire our terrific trees and find out what they're called.

Category: Attractions

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