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  • Maxine Smith

Knobthorns - Surprisingly Interesting Trees

Often on a safari, we head out prepared to see animals like lions, elephants and giraffe. Seldom do we think about the lush bush that is rushing past us as we drive. There are some incredible trees around Nyumbani with some fascinating facts.

One of these is the knobthorn tree, the name in both English and Afrikaans refers to the very characteristic thorns, which are knobbed. Interestingly, the knobthorn is bush fire-resistant as well as drought-resistant. The wood is hard and resilient against termites.

Often hole-nesting bird species will use a knob thorn. Because of its hardy nature, the knobtorn wood has many uses. It is very durable and is regularly used for Parquet flooring material. It has been used to make posts and mine props. It also makes a good bonsai subject.

The knobthorn is a tasty meal for many different animals. They have resin that Galagos love. Elephants eat the branches, leaves and shoots, Kudus browse the leaves and shoots and Giraffe, Monkey and Baboon eat the flowers. The leaves and flowers of a knobthorn form about 40% of a giraffe's diet and they are the main mammal pollinator of the tree. Sometimes it is great to stop and learn about a new tree when going through the beautiful bushveld.

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