The Indaba Tree at Pretoriuskop is a typical example of its type – many traditional villages in Africa have an 'indaba tree', where the community congregates to discuss important matters. Indaba means 'meeting' or 'meeting place'. One such tree is this historic Natal mahogany in the Kruger Park’s Pretoriuskop Camp.

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Pretoriuskop is the oldest rest camp in the Kruger National Park.

Pretoriuskop is the oldest rest camp in the Kruger National Park. Here you'll find this Trichilia emitica, an expansive Natal mahogany, where one of the park's first rangers, Harry Wolhuter, held his daily staff meetings.

Wolhuter was a colourful character in his own right. He sometimes dressed himself in the skin of a lion that he had killed single-handedly, earning him the Swazi name of 'Lindana', which means 'loin cloth'. The Pretoriuskop Camp was originally the garden outside his hut. It remains the only camp in the park where non-indigenous trees are allowed to grow, because the park rangers feel that the red flamboyants and purple bougainvilleas that he planted are a nostalgic part of the park's history.

And of course, there is his 'indaba tree'. These days, it offers shelter to picnicking tourists and a sometimes a herd of plump impala who often come into the camp. 

The Natal mahogany makes an ideal indaba tree, with its wide-spreading crown and dark, glossy leaves casting a dense shade through summer and winter, when the African sun still burns white hot. It also has sweet smelling, creamy green flowers to add to the appeal of sitting beneath it. Its round fruits split open to reveal red and black seeds that are particularly delectable to birds and bees.

Please note, that although the tree’s seeds are edible, their outer covering is poisonous.

The sign on the tree offers the following information:

Trichilla emetic

Natal mahogany; Rooi-essenhout (Afrikaans); Umkhuhla (Zulu); Mosikiri (Tswana)

A medium to large, handsome, evergreen tree, 20m in height. Flowers creamy green, fragrant. Fruit a brown capsule. The black seeds, almost completely enveloped by the scarlet aril, are fascinating, as they have the vacant expression of a doll’s eyes.

The wood works well and takes a good polish but should be treated against borer attack. Suitable for furniture, household utensils, shelving and dugout canoes. In African medicine, the bark is soaked in warm water and the liquid used as an enema. The seeds provide a superior quality oil. This oil is rubbed into cuts made on a fractured limb in order to hasten healing and is also used to anoint the body generally. It may be taken internally for the relief of rheumatism and can be made into a good quality soap.

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