Currently, South Africa is suffering from severe drought conditions and measures have been put in place all over the country to save water. In this light we are focusing our attention on drought resistant trees.
Trees that can tolerate dry conditions generally have certain characteristics that help them to survive long waterless periods. Species with grey or silvery leaves reflect harsh, moisture sapling light while others are insulated by a fine velvety covering on leaves and stems. Cacti and succulent leaved plants store water, while species with small, stiff foliage have reduced surface areas which minimise transpiration. Trees with fine, feathery leaves lose less moisture through evaporation and those with deep, water seeking roots can survive long periods of drought.
The slow-growing Camel thorn has drooping, often twisted branches and a rounded or umbrella-shaped crown. The roots of the Acacia erioloba penetrates the soil deeply and can obtain water from depths of up to 60m. One of South Africa’s most common trees, the Camel thorn is extremely hardy and in addition to being drought resistant the tree can tolerate cold conditions.
Widely distributed in South Africa, the tree can range in height from 2 to 16m. Suitable for large gardens, it will grow up to 8m in an urban environment. Sweet-scented, bright yellow, ball-like flowers are borne from late winter into summer, attracting birds and insects. The Camel thorn is distinguishable from other Acacias by its larger leaves and large, light gray velvety seedpods shaped like crescent moons. These pods are highly nutritious and are eaten during dry seasons by livestock and large native herbivores. In fact, the name ‘Camel’ thorn refers to the Afrikaans name for giraffes who love to browse these trees and have a specially adapted tongue and lips that protect the animals from the vicious double thorns of the Acacia erioloba.
The Camel thorn is protected in South and cannot be cut, disturbed or damaged. As a tough, resilient species, Acacia erioloba is wildlife friendly and provides welcome shade to man and animals in our many arid areas.