Expedition no. 52: Tree Society outing based in Chimanimani village: 29 Jan 2015-02 Feb 2015

Tree Society outing to the Chimanimani area; visits were made to Outward Bound, Bridal Veil Falls and Rathmore Estate.

Generate a list of species for Expedition no. 52



Thursday, 29 January to Monday 2 February 2015

Day 1: 29 January 2015

This was probably the best-attended Tree Society outing ever, with 46 people arriving in Chimanimani for 3 days of treeing and socialising in convivial company. In my period of membership (from about 1988) I think the largest number we ever had in the past was 32 people who came to Nyanga in 2002. There is no doubt that these longer trips are very popular.

It was also 14 years since the previous Tree Society outing to Chimanimani. On that occasion, written up in Tree Life 257 (July, 2001) the trip was from 13 – 18th April 2001. Interestingly two of the places visited on that trip were the same as on this one, namely Outward Bound and Rathmore Forest.

Very detailed preparations had been made for the weekend by Bill Clarke, who had made a special trip to Chimanimani in 2014 to inspect the accommodation, visit the various possible venues and arrange activities for each day. Meg Coates Palgrave assembled a list of trees from the area and this was available for participants to use. Most people came from Harare but a few came from further afield.

The Thursday was mostly spent travelling. Meg and I travelled together (we were to have taken Tom Muller but sadly he was not well enough to come). The Harare to Mutare road is these days in excellent condition and the stage from Mutare to Chimanimani also pretty good so we made good time, stopping for a picnic lunch at the Umvumvumvu River Bridge. Here we made a respectable list of trees at this low altitude venue (870 m).

On arrival we went to the Farmhouse where we were greeted by Bill and Fiona and given firstly the traditional glass of sherry and then our 'pack' for the weekend with details of our accommodation. We then had time for a quick visit to our "cottage", which turned out to be a very substantial and spacious place indeed.

At 5 pm, our convoy then headed out along the Cashel Scenic Road to a spot giving a marvellous view along the line of the Chimanimani Mountains. Doug van der Ruit was our guide and he pointed out features of interest along the mountain range.

Then back for the first of our regular evening dinners at the Chimanimani Hotel, including notices from Bill, a welcome speech from your Chairman and a talk on the mountains by Doug.

- Mark Hyde


Forty-six members and guests of the Tree Society gathered at The Farmhouse on the outskirts of Chimanimani village after breakfast and drove in convoy to the Outward Bound School at the foot of the rugged Chimanimani Mountains. Once there we were allocated to two groups. One group accompanied Mark Hyde to Tessa’s Pool, close to the school on the upper reaches of the Haroni River. Dagmar and I followed Meg Coates-Palgrave and Dave Meikle, director of the school, in the other direction.

After about an hour’s ambling at normal Tree Society speed (15 trees per hour) we reached a junction in the path. We should have turned left there for a 10 minute walk home for our scheduled tea break at the school, but were persuaded that the other route, along the Hadange River, would be much more interesting and would only take 20-25 minutes longer. Two hours later we finally made base, to find the other party busy with lunch. The diversion entailed negotiating a narrow path on a very steep slope and clambering over several stiles and up onto a rocky ridge, but botanically and scenically it was worth the effort.

We started in the school grounds, where we noticed two alien invaders that are very common in the Eastern Districts growing amongst the ornamental shrubs. One was Vernonanthura phosphorica, a native of Brazil, which was apparently introduced as a nectar plant for bees in Mozambique in the 1990s and is now a widespread invader in the Eastern Highlands. Superficially it resembles a Vernonia, with which we are all familiar, and can reach 4 m in height.

Once out of the grounds we entered indigenous woodland that soon changed to evergreen forest, from which we emerged again into woodland on the slopes above the Hadange River. Some of the larger trees were species we know from around Harare, notably Uapaca kirkiana (Muzhanje), which was very common on the rocky slopes.

Of more interest were those that are special to the Eastern Districts. Brachystegia utilis (False Mufuti) was widespread and had us puzzled to begin with. It is a typical Brachystegia, but with 6-10 pairs of leaflets, which puts it in between B. boehmii and B.glaucescens, which have more leaflets, and B.spiciformis, which has less. It has a distribution limited to the eastern border of Zimbabwe and further North.

Albizia adianthifolia (Rough-bark Flat-crown), with feathery, bipinnate leaves, was also present. It too has a limited distribution at lower altitudes along the eastern border (Outward Bound is just over 1100m high), being replaced at higher altitudes by the very similar A.gummifera and A.schimperiana.

Newtonia buchananii (Forest Newtonia) is another species with feathery leaves that is restricted to the Eastern Highlands. The diagnostic feature of the genus is the presence of small stalked glands along the rachis between each pair of pinnae.

Breonadia salicina (Breonadia) is also confined to the eastern border in Zimbabwe, although it does extend further South. It has long, narrow leaves as the name suggests (from salix, meaning willow), and closely resembles Rauvolfia caffra, which we often see around Harare, but can be readily differentiated from it by the absence of milky latex. Heteropyxis dehniae (Lavender Tree), growing on the slope above the Hadange River, surprised us as being a large tree, with peeling, distinctly pink bark, much larger than we are used to around Harare. It gets its name from the distinctive, pleasant aroma of the leaves when they are crushed.

In the understory of the evergreen forest the dominant species were Harungana madagascariensis, Maesa lanceolata, Bridelia micrantha and Englerophytum magalismontanum. Harungana madagascariensis, commonly called Orange Blood, on account of the orange latex in the leaves, or Praying Hands, because of the characteristic clasping together of the large, terminal pair of leaves, is an Eastern Districts special.

The Maesa (Maesa), Bridelia (Mitzeerie) and Englerophytum (Stemfruit) occur around Harare as well, but are not usually as common and as lush as they were in the forest. The presence of colonies of Dodonea viscosa (Sand Olive) was a surprise in that environment. A trifoliate Searsia in fruit that we assumed was S.longipes, with which we are very familiar, turned out to be S.chirindensis, which does not occur near Harare, the diagnostic difference being the very long petioles.

A feature of the forest was the abundance of creepers covering the understory. The first to catch our attention, and our ankles with its tough, prickly, trailing stems, was Smilax anceps (Smilax). The leaves are very broad, with several pairs of veins arising on either side of the midrib from the base of the leaf. Dioscorea schimperiana was also widespread. It has leaves very similar to Smilax, but larger, and is not so unfriendly. A Landolphia species (Apricot Vine), one of two very similar species that are difficult to differentiate when not in flower, was less common but was notable in that it was bearing large, spherical fruit. Cassytha pondoensis was an interesting find, appearing to be merely a bundle of leafless green string but in actuality a parasitic plant, though what it was parasitizing we didn’t establish.

Finally, a few of the plants that excited Meg were a Cyperus (Sedge), not identified specifically, growing in the bottom of a dry stream bed; a slender orchid with minute flowers growing on a tree above the Hadange River, Microcoelia exilis; and a leguminous plant with leaves arranged in overlapping layers like a louvre window and huge stipules, appropriately named Aeschynomene grandistipulata, which is restricted to the Chimanimanis.

It was a fascinating, though somewhat tiring walk, and we are most grateful to Meg for showing us the unusual flora of the Chimanimani foothills.

- John Lawrence


The morning began with a hectic Scavenger Hunt in which the group was split into six teams and given a list of 20 tree species to find. The Hunt had been prepared by Doug. After the Hunt had been adjudicated (the Leopards were the winners), the group again split into two with Mark and Meg leading each of the groups.

Bill and Doug explain the Scavenger Hunt rules

We were part of the group led by Mark, which went along the river close to the Falls themselves. Here is a list of the plants we identified:

Celtis africana, family Ulmaceae, Common name: Celtis. This tree has a wide distribution from the coast to evergreen forests and can be confused with Trema orientalis, also Ulmaceae, the Pigeonwood. Celtis can be a fine spreading tree with pale trunk and branches, conspicuously leafless in winter. The leaves are ovate, hairy and three veined from the base. A good tip from Mark to distinguish between Celtis and Pigeonwood was that Celtis leaves are serrated over the upper two-thirds only, whereas Pigeonwood leaves are finely and regularly serrated along the entire length. The next day we saw magnificent Pigeonwoods in the Rathmore forest competing in height with the Albizia.

Erythroxylum emarginatum, family Erythroxylaceae, Coco Tree. Ours was a straggling shrub but the species can be up to 9 m in height and may be found in ravines, evergreen forests, rocky outcrops and coastal bush. The stem is slightly flattened and the species has oblanceolate leaves up to 5 cm long, which are dark green, stiff textured, with prominent veining and the apex slightly notched. The leaves can be folded close to the ear and a crackle can be heard. There are sweet scented flowers 10 mm in diameter, which can be seen from September to December.

Ilex mitis, family Aquifoliaceae, the Holly family. This tree is often found on stream banks in evergreen forest leaning over water. The bark is pale and smooth, the leaves are narrowly elliptic, simple, alternate, shiny dark green and purple-tinged in new growth. The mid-vein is deeply channelled with the apex sharply pointed. The flowers are white, sweetly scented with the sexes separate on different trees. Fruits are edible, spherical and crimson from April to July, hence the common name, African Holly.

Choristylis rhamnoides, family Iteaceae, False Shiny-leaf. This is a shrub or scrambler with long trailing branches, or a small tree to 3 m. It is found in high altitude forest. The leaves are alternate, elliptic, shiny, light green with veins pinched below. The leaf margin is serrate with the teeth glandular and the petiole is reddish when young. It bears greenish-yellow flowers from August, so fruit and flowers were absent at this time.

Ensete ventricosum, family Strelitziaceae, Wild Banana. A fleshy tree up to 12 m with fleshy leaves, found in high rainfall forest along streams. The stem consists of old leaf bases and the leaves are spirally arranged and may be up to 5 m in length. The flowers are large spikes up to 3 m long, covered in a maroon spathe bract. This does not make soft, banana-like fruits but a mass of seed.

Acacia abyssinica, family Fabaceae (Mimosoideae), Nyanga Flat-top. This conspicuously flat-topped tree, up to 15 m in height, seems to always be in groups at high altitude in mountain gullies. Leaves can have up to 51 pairs of pinnae, each bearing many small leaflets.

Dombeya burgessiae, family Sterculiaceae, Pink Dombeya. A tall shrub with large ovate, 3-lobed, leaves which are about 10-12 cm in diameter and are sparsely hairy on both surfaces with a scalloped margin. This is commonly cultivated.

Trimeria grandifolia, family Salicaceae (formerly it was in Flacourtiaceae), Mulberry Leaf Trimeria. This is so like a mulberry leaf that it made it easy to find at the Scavenger Hunt. A medium sized tree up to 10 m in height forming the understory of evergreen forest. Leaves, large, ovate to circular, 5-9-veined from the base, shiny dark green when mature with the apex rounded or notched and the margin toothed. Flowers small, greenish.

Ficus craterostoma, family Moraceae, Rare Forest Fig. Our scavenger hunt team was fortunate to have Bilal who found this fig as it is most unusual. It is a small to medium tree, 12 m in height, found in heavily wooded mountain ravines where it can be a strangler. The tree has smooth grey bark and the leaves have a characteristic shape, i.e. narrow triangular and the apex with a "squared off" or truncate end. The leaves are about 7 × 3 cm, leathery and without hairs; the base is tapering and the margin entire. The figs, which were present, are small, 10 mm, not hairy and in the axils of the leaves.

Clausena anisata, family Rutaceae, Horsewood. A small tree to 5 m in height occurring in the forest fringe along rivers, found from sea level to 2,200 m. The bark is smoothish grey/brown. The leaves are alternate, compound, with 10-17 alternate to sub-opposite leaflets including a terminal leaflet; the leaflets are ovate to narrowly elliptic, purplish when young and they are covered in glands (dots) and have a strong aniseed smell when crushed. The flowers are yellow-white in sprays and the fruit is spherical, 7 mm diameter and black when mature.

Solanecio mannii, family Compositae, Canary Creeper Tree. This species is a much-branched shrub up to 7 m in height, occurring at high altitudes at margins of evergreen forest. The bark is green to grey and the branches are marked with conspicuous leaf scars. The leaves are crowded at the ends of branches, simple, oblong-elliptic, up to 40 × 12 cm, light green, velvety, with apex and base tapering. The leaf margins are jagged and the petiole is broad-based, up to 2 cm long. The plant has yellow, daisy-like flowers, which have an unpleasant smell in the evening.

Rapanea melanophloeos, family Myrsinaceae, Cape Beech. Rapanea is a small to medium tree up to 10 m in height, found in evergreen forest. The bark is light grey, smooth to flaking and the stem is fluted in mature trees, while young branches can be square. The leaves are clustered at the ends of branches, oblong-lanceolate, 5 to 13 × 0.8-5 cm, leathery, dull dark green above and paler beneath. Translucent gland dots and streaks may be seen when the leaf is held up to light. The petiole is up to 1.5 cm long and is typically red and grooved. The flowers are white and inconspicuous. The fruit are spherical, up to 5 mm in diameter, and are clustered on the branchlets, green, becoming white and purple when ripe.

Rhoicissus tomentosa, family Vitaceae, Forest Grape or Simple-leaved Grape. This plant clambers over trees and bushes associated with forest. The branches are covered in brown hairs. The leaves are simple, large, almost circular, up to 20 cm long and are conspicuously 3-veined from the base; the upper surface is green and the under surface has rusty soft hairs. Flowers were not present but fruit which are spherical, 2 cm in diameter and purple black when mature, were seen. This was another easy find at The Scavenger Hunt as it is so grape-like in appearance.

Hypericum revolutum, family Clusiaceae, Curry bush. This is was the first of two species of Hypericum seen on this day. It is a shrub, but may reach 3 m in height. It is found at high altitudes, in grassland, along streams and at forest margins. The leaves are small and narrow, 2 × 0.5 cm, in opposite pairs, crowded along the stems, fresh green to bluish with no petiole and the margin entire. Flowers are solitary, about 5 cm wide and bright yellow, and seem to appear throughout the year. The fruit is a brown capsule. This is a good garden subject, although it gives off a curry smell.

Hypericum roeperianum, family Clusiaceae, Large-leaved St John’s Wort. A shrub occurring at high altitudes, in mountain grassland and along stream banks. It resembles the Curry Bush but has much larger leaves which are more widely spread along the stems.

Halleria lucida family Stilbaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae), Tree Fuchsia. We saw this to the side of the falls with trailing branches. This is an attractive tree to a variety of birds especially the sunbirds.

Leucosidea sericea, family Rosaceae, Leucosidea. This species is a grey straggling shrub of high altitudes along kloofs. The bark is reddish and flaking in strips and the young branches have persistent stipules. Leaves are alternate, compound, with up to three pairs of leaflets and a terminal leaflet. The leaflet margins are jaggedly toothed. The flowers are small, greenish and clustered in sprays.

Diospyros whyteana, family Ebenaceae, Bladder-nut. A small tree or shrub of mountain slopes, forests and rocky places. Bark smooth almost black. Leaves with the petiole nearly absent, glossy above, paler beneath, held alternately in two ranks, elliptic to ovate-oblong 4 × 2 cm with the margin entire but hairy. Flowers cream to pale yellow, fragrant, 5 to 10 cm long. Fruit, distinctive, spherical, 2 cm long, red when mature, bladder-like, loosely holding the seeds which germinate readily; a good garden shrub.

Streptocarpus michelmorei, family Gesneriaceae. Growing along the damp bank as we turned from the falls down the slope, this was flowering among ferns. The flowers were tubular, mauve to blue, with yellow streaks inside The single leaf was oblong, with veins raised on the upper surface.

Teclea nobilis, family Rutaceae, Small-fruited Teclea. One of the largest species of the genus, this is an evergreen shrub or tree up to 13 m in height. It is found in riverine evergreen forest. The leaves are 3-foliolate with the leaflets narrowly elliptic, 12 × 3 cm, dark glossy green, apex tapering, attenuate, base tapering, margin entire. Translucent gland dots are present and crushed leaves have a pleasant smell. The flowers are small, yellow to cream and scented. Fruiting trees are conspicuous, bearing red/orange fruits when ripe, in large heads.

Catha edulis, family Celastraceae, Bushman’s Tea. A shrub or small tree, occurring in medium to high altitude evergreen forest, or on wooded hillsides. Bark grey, becoming dark and rough in large trees. Leaves elliptic or oblong, pendulous, glossy-green above, paler beneath, leathery, tapering to the base and apex; margin toothed; petiole 10 mm long. Flowers pale yellow. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule, splitting to release winged seeds. This tree can resemble a Eucalyptus. It was named ‘Bushman’s Tea’ by Burchell in 1814. The leaves and bark contain alkaloids which can have an effect on the nervous system.

Schrebera alata, family Oleaceae, Wing-leaved Wooden Pear. This small tree may be found in evergreen forest or open woodland. The leaves are compound, pinnate, with 2 pairs of leaflets with a terminal leaflet; the leaflets are elliptic to oblong, shiny dark green above, paler beneath, velvety when young, the apex broadly tapering, forming a slender tip; margin entire. The petiolules are absent except on the terminal leaflet. The petiole and rachis are winged, hence the name. Flowers white with pink. Fruit wooden, pear-shaped.

When the Tree Society visited Woodlands Farm near Shamva, S. alata and S. trichoclada (the Large Wooden Pear) were growing in close proximity and I noted the ‘rain’ underneath S. alata, caused by the insect, Ptyelus grossus, which sucks up the sap and ejects it as ‘rain’.

Searsia dentata (formerly Rhus dentata) family Anacardiaceae, Nana-berry. A shrub or small tree, found at medium to high altitudes in a variety of habitats. Bark greyish and striated or smooth. Leaves 3-foliolate; leaflets lanceolate to elliptic, the terminal leaflet twice the size of the lateral leaflets. Leaflets with a dark green upper surface, paler under surface and can have rather long hairs, mainly on the prominent midrib and veins. Apex broadly tapers; the base is narrowly tapering; the margin deeply and roughly toothed; the petiole almost absent. Flowers small, yellow, terminal, occurring in axillary heads which are 14 cm long. Fruit red in heavy clusters, edible. A good garden shrub.

On the scavenger hunt the Uapaca kirkiana, Mahobohobo, was called for, I picked what I thought was kirkiana, but Meg identified it as Uapaca sansibarica, the Lesser Mahobohobo, occurring in low altitude, deciduous woodland, with leaves and fruit much smaller than Uapaca kirkiana. This was a first for me.

Another Uapaca looking a bit different was bought back from The Corner. We wondered if that was the Stilt-rooted Uapaca, as the leaves were large and seemed hairless. This is still to be investigated.

We arrived back down at the picnic huts for lunch. Thank goodness for the huts as there was a downpour and everyone found a space out of the rain. Many thanks to Meg and Mark for leading the walks and providing us with specialised knowledge, imparting all the different details and idiosyncrasies by which to help remember the plant.

- Anne Butler and Tempe van der Ruit


One of the events not included in Bill’s meticulous plans for that wonderful trip to Chimanimani was that we would be held up by a tractor and trailer which had been overturned as a result of being driven by a very inebriated and garrulous driver. From the back of the convoy Mark and I were very happy that it was someone else’s problem and we happily got on with a bit of botanising along the side of the road. The obstacle was cleared and we were able to proceed to the planned rendezvous spot which was in a lovely forest on Rathmore Estate. This was the area Lady Plunckett had called her ‘garden’ and soon we discovered she had planted quite a lot of trees. Fortunately Tempe was in my group because the first one we encountered had me totally baffled. No wonder. It was a South African endemic, Greyia sutherlandii, known as a Beacon Tree or Mountain or Natal Bottlebrush. It is one of a small genus of three species and certainly something I would never have expected to see there. Others that I suspect had been planted were Dombeya rotundifolia, Wild-pear, a woodland species, Bauhinia tomentosa, Yellow Bauhinia, more at home along the Umvumvumvu River at 800m than in a forest at 1500m above sea level.

Embelia schimperi, River Dotted-leaf, is really what I call an ‘honorary tree’ in that it tends to lean against other trees rather than stand by its self - when it is big enough, of course, as it is often quite shrubby with long trailing branches. But it does have a label! The leaves are quite thickly textured with tiny translucent streaks that can be seen when it is held up against the light. The use of some sort of magnification does help to see this feature.

There was lots of Piper capense, Wild Pepper. Piper nigrum is the species from which the culinary pepper comes (all three - black, white and green) and to obtain the different forms of the spice the berries are just treated differently. For black pepper, the berry is picked when not quite ripe and then dried until it shrivels and the skin turns dark brown to black; for white pepper the berries are allowed to ripen and the skin removed before they are dried; and green peppercorns are simply picked green and usually preserved in brine. This is a very interesting plant which looks as though it has opposite leaves with the flowers growing on the petiole, but flowers never grow on leaves, although they sometimes look as though they do. Very often opposite a leaf there is a branchlet with a leaf on the end of it looking for all the world as though it is another leaf and it is on this branchlet that there is sometimes a spike of tiny flowers, often bisexual with a few male flowers near the base.

The name ‘schimper’ came up again. This time it was Albizia schimperiana, Forest Longpod, which was a surprise to me as I have always associated it with Mutare at a drier lower altitude. There is also the big one just outside the Herbarium in Harare. And of course there was the usual ‘how do you spell that’ and ‘what does it mean’? And I had to confess that I had no idea who Schimper was. He/she was not anyone I had ever looked up. Thank goodness for the internet, and I came up with four possibilities but in the end it could only be Georg Wilhelm Schimper. A German botanist and naturalist born 19 August 1804, who spent time botanising in North Africa, settled in Ethiopia in 1836 where he died in October 1878. In Zimbabwe there are 17 species named schimperi and seven species named schimperiana. This means if these species were named after Wilhem Schimper they were probably named from specimens collected by him in Ethiopia and I checked on about half a dozen and that assumption was correct. It seems amazing that so many of our plants are so widespread.

In the understory was what I think was Dracaena fragrans, Small Dragontree, which isalso very widespread throughout tropical Africa including Ethiopia. Mark though it was Dracaena stuedneri, Large-leaved Dragontree because it was branching. One description I found said: ‘Young plants have a single unbranched stem with a rosette of leaves until the growing tip flowers or is damaged, after which it branches, producing two or more new stems; thereafter, branching increases with subsequent flowering episodes.’ I have one in my garden which I brought from Gorongosa Mountain and that has produced a sucker at the base as those in the Rathmore forest were doing. I also think that Dracaena stuedneri is really more of a forest edge tree and Dracaena fragrans is a forest understory shrub.

And then someone looked up into the canopy and wanted to know what ‘those trees with a very distinctive pattern of leaves’ were. A little detective work around the trunks produced some leaves to prove that they were Trema orientalis, Pigeonwood. The real thing this time and not like anything we had seen at Bridal Veil Falls the previous day and which I think were all a Grewia. The leaves were quite elongated, the apex drawn into a long point but most important there were serrations all the way around the margin, right to the base. What was so interesting is that these were mature trees in a forest canopy. I have always thought of this as a pioneer tree.

Rawsonia lucida, Forest Peach, was a lovely surprise, perhaps because I have always seen it at a much lower altidudes and here we were at 1500m. The leaves are very distinctive, quite stiff and leathery, the margin serrated with the teeth pointing forwards. As Tom would have said: ‘once seen never forgotton’! Just sometimes the name, like many names, is a bit elusive. This was apparently named after Sir R.W. Rawson who was Colonial Secretary to the Cape government, other details do not seem to be forthcoming other than this gentleman was born in 1812 and died in 1899 and the type specimen of Rawsonia lucida comes from Kwazulu Natal.

We eventually caught up with Mark, many of his group having passed us on their way back for lunch, and saw the grotto and the Ensete venticosum, Wild Banana. Is this another honorary tree? Which begs the question what is a tree? If a tree is a big plant with a stick in the middle, then the banana, Musa, and the wild banana, Ensete, both in the same family Musaceae, shouldn’t be called ‘trees’ because they don’t have a ‘stick’ in the middle. So what constitutes a stick? Is it woody? The banana plant is a big plant with a thick stem and a whorl of leaves at the top but the stem is formed by the fibrous stalks of the leaves and rather like a cabbage stem is held rigid by the pressure of water in them, so botanically speaking it is a giant herb. But it is big and looks like a tree and behaves like a tree, although it is actually happier if there is some shade. It is more than 2 m high and we can sit in the shade of those huge leaves with that lovely reddish purple midrib, so I am happy to call it a tree.

In catching up with Mark we were able to discover the names of some of the plants I wasn’t able to name. The little climber we all agreed would look very attractive in a hanging basket is Behnia reticulata. This is related to Asparagus and one of its common names is Forest Smilax. The flowering Pavetta was not P. umtalensis as I had thought, because that was the only one on the list, but hairy NyangaBrides-bush Pavetta comostyla subsp. comostyla var. inyangensis ,to give it its full name, which has larger flowerheads. That woody climber that I thought might be Combretum paniculatum because the rather blunt hook-like thorns appeared to be persistent spiny petiole bases characteristic of the climbing Combretums, was actually Clerodendrum cephalanthum subsp. swynnertonii. The fact that those hooks appeared to be more or less in threes was interesting. This is another species that has snuck its way onto a tree list with the common name Rope Tinderwood.

It was a lovely walk in a lovely forest and we all commented on the pleasure of just being in forest and enjoyed that as much as much as all the botanical interest. Thank you to John, Ann and Mary for helping me record what we saw and where we saw it on the three walks that I did. Thank you everyone for your interest and company and thank you to Bill for arranging what proved to be a hugely successful and enjoyable Tree Society trip.

- Meg Coates Palgrave


Day 4. 1st February 2015: The Corner

At the dinner at the Chimanimani Hotel on Saturday 31st January 2015 Doug van der Ruit asked for a show of hands by those wishing to go with him to The Corner on the following Sunday. Nine hands shot into the air. So 9 o’clock the next day saw two vehicles (Doug’s and Zilla Batchelor’s) with five people in each heading out on the dirt road, mostly passable but pretty rough in spots, from Chimanimani village to The Corner, that beautiful piece of rugged country jutting into Mozambique behind the main Chimanimani mountain range. The predominant tree species there seems to be the mis-named Mountain Acacia, Brachystegia glaucescens / tamarindoides, but these are mostly dwarfs, more like large bonsais in appearance than the large trees normally seen in rocky outcrops. Of course there are other species there too, such as Tasselberries (Antidesma venosum I think), two species of Muzhanje (Uapaca kirkiana & sansibarica), shiny green Newtonias,

Waterberries and others, as well as a multitude of small, pretty flowering plants like Lapeirousia erythrantha, Hypoxis angustifolia, Murdannia simplex, Xyris, the endemic Buchnera chimanimaniensis, some epiphytic orchids and even a few small Euphorbias, etc.

Possibly the most appealing feature of the area is the clear water of the Mahohwa river which flows and tumbles through the ubiquitous rocks on its way into the neighbouring territory. Our group of ten made its way first to a pleasant pool below a small waterfall, then proceeded downstream for a kilometre or so until we reached the beautiful Raphia Pool with its deep dark water at a perfect temperature for swimming, due perhaps to being fed by the waters of the river running widely over a long sloping rock-slide warmed by the sun. After an hour or more of swimming and basking or being massaged by the strong bubbling current entering the pool — a sort of natural jacuzzi — picnic lunch was enjoyed in the shade of the great Raphia

Palms. How did they get there, one wondered? [Raphia Palm seeds used to be carried by Arab traders and often germinated near water – Ed].

The return trek to the vehicles was by a different route, a little away from the river, so there were new things to be seen, including a small rock painting of an antelope which Doug showed us on a surprisingly exposed rock face. Light rain start to fall just as we reached the cars but this was by no means unpleasant as it had been quite hot at the lower altitude (around 1190 metres).

All in all the day had been a real joy and a great success.

- Dave Hartung


Day 5: 2nd February 2015

Return to Harare, so there was little to report on the botanical front.

Just before the 'last supper' on the previous day, I carried out a straw poll, asking random people what they had most enjoyed about the weekend and all but one said that it was the company and meeting old friends. It shows that the social aspect is a very important part of what the Tree Society is all about.

Everyone agreed that it had been an exceptionally enjoyable weekend. There were a number of trips, mishaps and falls but nothing serious. Plant specimens were collected and Meg and I will hopefully name these in due course.

Thanks must go to:

But above all I would like to give a special thank you to Bill. He made very detailed preparations for the weekend, including a special trip to Chimanimani in 2014 to inspect the accommodation, visit the various possible venues and arrange activities for each day. In particular, I would like to thank Bill for his meticulous, detailed planning; the welcoming sherry and pack of information, the daily seating plans, the precise timetables, the blue T-shaped stickers so that we could go straight through at the National Parks entrance and the list of things to bring (which included vacuum flask 3 times). Without Bill the weekend would not have been possible.

- Mark Hyde

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave 2007-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Mozambique: Expedition no. 52: Tree Society outing based in Chimanimani village.
https://www.mozambiqueflora.com/speciesdata/outing-display.php?outing_id=52, retrieved 15 June 2024

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