Celebrating Arbor Week in South Africa

Arbor-Week-Image_1 Tree of the year 2017 – Buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata)

 It is time to get the spade out the garden shed and start digging because, along with Spring, Arbor Week has arrived! This year Arbor Week takes place from the 1st of September to the 7th of September, the theme for this year is Forests and Water.

Arbor Week is a Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries event aiming to raise awareness about trees and sustainability. Trees are a vital source of food, medicine, fuel and building material.

2017 Arbor Week Theme – Forests and Water

Arbor Week in 2017 is focusing on forests and water as forests play an important role in the water cycle. Forests increase rainfall through a process of evapotranspiration from plant leaves.

The roots of trees stabilise the soil preventing mud slides, flooding and erosion in times of heavy rains.

Exotic trees in South Africa take in too much water, which is why South Africans need to be planting drought-resistant trees and growing water-wise gardens.

Rare tree of the year 2017 – Ebony tree (Euclea pseudebenus)

 Tree of the year 2017 – Buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata)

The buffalo thorn locally known as the wag-'n-bietjie tree, is regarded as the tree of life in African culture because life is not straight forward but zigzags like the branches of the buffalo thorn.

The buffalo thorn occurs country-wise and makes for a good beekeeper tree and fodder tree. It gets to 20 metres and makes for a great large garden specimen.

It was once customary that when a Zulu chief died, the tree was planted on his grave as a reminder or symbol of where the chief lies, hence the Zulu name umLahlankosi- "that which buries the chief."

Rare tree of the year 2017 – Ebony tree (Euclea pseudebenus)

The Cape ebony is an oasis in the desert, this xeriscape specimen provides an important ecological role in the drier regions of South Africa. It also makes for a very attractive garden tree, as it flourishes with extra water.

It prefers hot dry summers in semi-arid regions on the west coast, because of its small range and low-key status the Euclea pseudebenus is endangered.

A Landscaper's tip for planting trees this Arbor Week

"It is very rare to find a civic holiday that celebrates the future. Heritage Day, Labour Day, Freedom Day are all reminders of the past. Planting a tree is believing in the future of a more sustainable tomorrow. " – Oscar Lockwood

Choose your tree wisely this Arbor Week remember you need to think about what a tree will become not what it looks like now and how the tree will work in your garden.

This article has been contributed by SALI Member Life Landscapes. View their profile by hitting the link below.

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