Trees

Trying to identify trees is not so easy, and trying to photograph them even trickier! However, on an overnight hiking trip to the Central Cederberg, I fell in love with the Cedar tree, and have started trying to make more of an effort.

Black Witch-Hazel

Black Witch-hazel
Black Witch-hazel

Trichocladus crinitus

This small tree, known in Afrikaans as “Onderbos”, is abundant in the Knysna Forest.

Clanwilliam Cedar tree

Clanwilliam Cedar, Widdringtonia cedarbergensis
Clanwilliam Cedar, Widdringtonia cedarbergensis

Widdringtonia cedarbergensis

The Clanwilliam Cedar tree is one of the few trees found in a region dominated by fynbos. The cedars grow on cliffs, rocky outcrops and slopes between 1050 m and 1650 m above sea level.  It is estimated that an area of 70 000 ha of dense woodland has been reduced to 25,000 ha of scattered trees since the early 19th century. It is now an endangered species and harvesting has been banned for 100 years. There are various schemes in place to re-establish the trees in their natural habitat, including a nursery at Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve.

On a two-day hiking trip in the Central Cederberg we found a number of trees in the Crystal Pools area. The trees are truly beautiful, but even more beautiful — but at the same time sad and haunting — were the hundreds of dead trees spread across the landscape. It is clear that at one time in the not-so-distant-past there were veritable forests of Cedar trees in this otherwise stark, arid area. The dead trees are silver in colour, and the image of their twisted limbs reaching for the blue skies will have you reaching for your camera.

A number of trees have been planted in the kloof behind Algeria, half-way up to the waterfall. It will take you about thirty minutes to reach them.

For a passionate account of the plight of the Cedar trees, read “Diep Spore” by Petrus Hanekom.

Forest Elder

Forest Elder flower
Forest Elder flower, Nuxia floribunda

Nuxia floribunda

We saw these trees in abundance in the Knysna area late September. It is known as a Bosvlier in Afrikaans.

Sighting: Knysna Forest [September]

Kokerboom

Kokerboom, Aloe dichotoma at Ramskop
Kokerboom, Aloe dichotoma

Aloe dichotoma

The Kokerboom, or Quiver Tree.

Sighting: Ramskop [September]

Outeniqua Yellowwood

Afrocarpus falcatus (synonym Podocarpus falcatus)

The indigenous giants of the forest were all but wiped out by greedy timber merchants. Take time to stand under one of these giants and use the silence to imagine a time when they dominated the forest canopy which stretched forever from mountain to sea. The wood was found to be suitable for shipbuilding, and of course is still valued for making furniture.

Some of the oldest examples of the species exist in the Knysna forest and are know to be more than a thousand years old.

Sighting: Dalene Matthee Memorial, Knysna Forest

Real Yellowwood

Podocarpus latifolius

This is commonly referred by its Afrikaans name, Kalander.

Sighting: common in the Knysna Forest