9 January 2019
A WEEK OF FLOWERS: PART 2

Summer is such a great time of year in the Timbavati. Not only is the bush green and vibrant, but there are also some fantastic colours showing up all over the place. These colours come from many places, whether one finds them in the numerous butterflies slowly floating about or the migrant birds that have returned for the plentiful takings.

In this blog I will be focusing on the colour found in the gorgeous wild flowers that pop-up everywhere after some good summer rains. This is the second part of a two-part blog so read part one to catch up!

The Large Raisin (Grewia hexamita)

Large Rasian

This is not a very common bush in the Timbavati, but luckily for us at Tanda Tula we have several growing in and around the camp grounds and along the adjacent river banks. It’s so lovely to walk along the camp pathways surrounded by such vibrant colours! Such bright and beautiful flowers are bound to attract butterflies and birds, who in turn help with pollination, but also in seed dispersal as this is a fruiting bush. This is a very important aspect as a seed that travels through an acidic digestive system is far more likely to germinate and a lot quicker too. There are no medicinal uses for this bush that we are aware of, but the small hard fruit are edible not only for many animals, but for humans too.

String of Stars

String of Stars

This small, yet beautiful shrub is my favourite of all the flowers. The plants get no taller than ankle height and from a distance just look like green shrubs with small white specs. However, when you get close-up they really come to life! Suddenly there are hundreds of tiny, white flowers all growing in neat lines. I have over my career noticed that one animal in particular finds incredible delight in eating this plant - the largest of them all, the elephant! They seem to eat the stuff like spaghetti pulling huge amounts of it out of the ground to enjoy. Then again, I have not come across many things that these giant beasts don’t enjoy eating!

The Poison Apple  (Solanum panduriforme)

Poison Apple

This is an incredibly interesting plant found in the Great Kruger National Park. A fairly common shrub that is intensely poisonous, but at the same time fantastically medicinal. Although the whole plant is poisonous, it is the fruit, a small ‘apple’ like berry, that carries the most potent amounts of poison. On the flip side the Poisonous Apple also offers many health benefits. A watery tea brewed with the fruit can help remedy sore eyes. For constipation, you can mash the entire plant and ingest it orally (Good luck!). Traditionally, this plant was used by hunters who would wash themselves with an infusion of the plant’s roots in order to have a successful hunt.

Purple Pod Cluster Leaf

Purple Pod Cluster Leaf

The Purple Pod Cluster leaf is a medium sized tree and is often found growing in dense colonies throughout geological sights where there are large amounts of Gabro rock. For most of the year these dense woodlands are rather baron and unforgiving,but when the rains come they turn into lush, game filled and noisy areas! These beautiful clumps of tiny creamy white flowers are truly a sight to behold, but there is one major drawback - they stink! It’s an incredibly pungent experience driving or walking through one of the Purple Pod thickets! However, the smell doesn’t seem to deter any elephants who relish the new shoots and leaves. There are not too many medicinal uses known for this plant, but it is believed to help remedy abdominal pain in postnatal ladies.

The Wandering Jew (Commelina benghalensis)

Wandering Jew

This is a beautiful little bluish violet flower that offers a lot more than just something pretty to look at. In fact, it’s packed full of medicinal uses. The most notable of all would have to be its use as an eye drop or at least a way of cleaning the eyes. Just below the flower in the image there is what looks like a sharp little green leaf - it is in fact a pouch of sorts and within that pouch is a couple of drops of liquid. This liquid makes for a great eye drop, not to mention that the shape of pouch helps to administer the drop almost exactly like a regular eye drops bottle!

Sweet Thorn Acacia (Vachellia karroo)

Sweet thorn flowers

The area around Tanda Tula Safari Camp is full of these iconic trees which, at this time of year, is spectacular as the horizon line is often filled with specs of yellow from the millions of little yellow fluff ball flowers. These are essentially balls of pollen just waiting to entice bees and other insects to land on them. However, due to the love that giraffes have for these trees and their delicious leaves, it is believed that they contribute greatly to the pollination of these trees and many other similar species. This occurs when these tall animals go to feed on the trees and while doing so end up with their cheeks covered in the bright, yellow pollen.The giraffes then move on to the next tree and so pollination happens in much the same way it would with a bee! The Sweet Thorn Acacia also has a great medicinal use. A poultice can be made from a mixture of the leaves, bark, sap and flowers which can then be applied to wounds to help remedy pain, inflammation or infection.

 

 

 

 

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