For those of you that didn’t know (or haven’t noticed!): that tree in our logo is a Leadwood. According to Dave, the managing director of Bushveld Terrace Hotel, it’s his favourite tree and his original idea was inspired by the many dead leadwood trees that dot the landscape of the central parts of the Kruger National Park along rivers and watercourses. The logo was designed by Dylan Kopping who was a guest of Dave’s on a backpack trail in the Kruger...
The Leadwood Tree (Combretum imberbe for the smart scientists among you) is the tallest growing of the bush-willow family, and has hairless twigs and leaves as the Latin imberbe (hairless) suggests. Other names include Hardekool (Afrikaans), Mohwelere-tshipi (Sotho), Motswiri (Tsonga) and iMpondondlovu (isiZulu).
Native to the mesic savannas of Southern Africa, the tree is protected in South Africa and can be found from KwaZulu-Natal, through the Lowveld and the Northern Bushveld to our neighbouring countries up to Tanzania and Zambia.
- The Leadwood is so named because of its extremely heavy heartwood. It weighs 1200kg/m3 which is so dense that it sinks in water. A mokoro made from a Leadwood stump inevitably ends up as a submarine. Ping! Ping!
- The Afrikaans name, Hardekool, is also related to its density. The wood burns very slowly with intense heat and was often used for a fire intended to burn all night to keep wild animals at bay. Of course this also relates to a brilliant braai fire for hot, long-lasting coals if you ever need to put a whole cow on the spit.
- Another function of the high density the wood is extreme termite and borer resistance. It was once used for railway sleepers and fence posts. As a result, a tree can remain standing for hundreds of years after it has died. The trees in the Sable Dam are a testament to that.
- Carbon dating has indicated that Leadwood Trees can reach an age of 1000 years plus. That’s older and tougher than your mother-in-law. Count your blessings.
- The leaves of this tree are favoured by elephant, giraffe, kudu, impala and grey duiker.
- Before we figured out how to smelt metals, the very hard and tough wood was used as the blades of agricultural hoes. John Deere’s granddaddy.
- Leadwood ash (left in the Weber after the day before yesterday’s braai) can be used as a substitute for toothpaste because of its abrasive qualities and high lime content. Yes, you can argue this with your wife when you leave the Aquafresh at home next time you visit.
- The same ash can also be used as a whitewash by mixing it with milk. Another side project for after that braai. No more wussy weatherproof PVA.
- The Herero people of Namibia believed that leadwood trees housed the spirits of their ancestors. Eish, imagine your mother-in-law watching over you for a thousand years.
- The water used when boiling the roots can be used to tan leather and to treat diarrhoea and bilharzia. Additionally the smoke from green leaves relieves coughs and colds. Pharmacies, like hardware stores are completely redundant, man...