• Maxine Smith

The Leadwood Tree

The leadwood tree belongs to the Combretum family, one of the hardest woods in the Lowveld. It is named after lead due to it being incredibly dense.


The leadwood tree is one of the biggest trees in Africa, able to reach heights of up to 20 meters. The trunk is uncommon, with horizontal and vertical cracks creating geometric shapes on a greyish coloured bark. The leaves are a grey-green on both sides. The leadwood tree provides food for many mammals such as impala, giraffe, elephant and kudu. The leadwood tree can live for very long, up to 1000 years. This is largely due to their hardwood. It is resistant to termites and other wood-boring insects and doesn't decay easily. Even after the tree dies, it will stand for a long time and will often be used for nests or roosting sites for vultures and other birds of prey.

The leadwood tree has many uses, both modern and traditional. Traditionally, it's ash was used to make a toothpaste as well as made into a whitewash for huts. It is also believed that inhaling the smoke from the burning wood can helo cure coughs and colds. We also use leadwood as firewood, as it burns very slow due to its dense nature. Although it is very hard to work with, it can be used to make very nice furniture. The leadwood tree is one of the big six trees and is also a protected species, this means no wood can be harvested until a branch breaks off naturally.

The dead leadwood is one of the most iconic looking trees in the area. Standing out with their huge structure and white colour. They also make great silhouette subjects for photos. Keep an eye out for them on your next safari.

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