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Day for Trees

12 October is National Arbor Day and the common Haak&Steek (Acacia Tortilis) is tree of the year 2012. Acacia Tortilis epitomises the African savannah landscape with native ranges from Southern Africa to East Africa and beyond to Egypt and India. It is said that strands of this tree are indicators of good soil and palatable grasses. Acacia Tortilis or umbrella thorn, was selected as Tree of the Year not only for its ornamental value but also the various uses communities derive from this plant on a day to day basis. It is also an ideal garden tree but it grows very slowly. It attracts an assortment of birds. Two subspecies of Acacia Tortilis occur locally, Heteracantha more to the west and Spirocarpa to the East and North-East. It is easy to identify the Haak&Steek, its seedpods are tightly curled spirals, a unique diagnostic feature among the Acacia species. Where over-grazing occurs, it tends to turn into invader bush. In recognition of Arbor Day as well as the society’s 15th birthday which both fall on 12 October, the Botanical Society staged an Open Day at the National Botanic Research Institute (NBRI) on 6 October. Festivities included guided walks, an illustrated talk, and various stalls with items for sale. On 23 October the society plans to hold its annual Tree Award Ceremony to honour people and organisations that have made a special effort to preserve trees.

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