Silver Cluster-leaf- shimmering in the sun
Terminalia sericea Afrikaans: Vaalboom
The deciduous silver cluster-leaf is not a particularly big tree, for the usual height is 7 to 8 meters with occasional mature individuals reaching 12 meters. Frequently, however, it is seen as a sapling or as a many-stemmed shrub, the latter probably as a result of vigorous regrowth after a fire.
The yellow-wood is fine grained and hard and has been used to make furniture and fence posts which, because they are termite resistant, last for years.
Strange as it may sound, young trees are often easy to recognize in their leafless stage because they have a very distinctive architecture: the single straight stem sends out branches at more or less 50-centimetre intervals each at an angle of 40° or 50°. Where these tender branch they generally do so horizontally and in the same plane, producing and overall zigzag effect.
When in leaf trees of all sizes and ages are readily identified by their characteristic blue-grey foliage with silvery tinges, especially the young leaves which have a covering of fine, silvery hairs that are lost with age. This silver-grey hairs on the leaves give the tree its name.
The silver cluster-leaf has a preference for deep, sandy soils, so much so that its presence is a reliable indicator of this soil type. It is well distributed as far north as tropical Africa and in the Kruger National Park it is found throughout the west.
Although the tree is widely used in traditional medicine, it is not much utilized by browsing animals. Diarrhoea and colic were cured by African tribes by using a decoction of the roots. This decoction is very bitter. Tswana potters use the leaves to glaze their pots. Galls are common in the silver cluster-leaf and are caused by larvae of a gall midge.
Bushveld Trees : Malcolm Funston
Making the most of Indigenous Trees : Fanie & Julye-Ann Venter
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