The Tree of Choice

Bitou

Bitou

We have had an on going land rehabilitation project for close on two years and we are starting to see so much more diversity in the plant life because of this. Almost every time we go for a walk we find something”new”. Probably our most successful plants are those that naturally pioneer new  areas. The two most populous ones at Reflections are the Keurboom(Virgilia Species) and the Bitou(Chrysanthemoides species).

The Keurboom is a member of the pea family and has the characteristic pods and flower shape as well as a beautiful delicate scent. Being a member of the pea family it has the ability to replace Nitrogen in the soil, this is an element much needed by plants and normally in short supply. Decomposition of living organism’s would normally provide Nitrogen but that wouldn’t have happened here for many years. Therefor the Keurbooms play a vital role in fixing the damage from poor land use in the past.

Keurboom in flower

Keurboom in flower

The other advantage of the Keurboom is that it is a prolific seeder,  so all round, for us, it is a wonderful tree.

The other one that has been wonderfully successful is the Bitou or Tick berry, so called because the small glossy fruits look  just like bunches of engorged Tick’s. The fruits are, however, far more pleasant and taste just like Sugar Cane. This has been appreciated for thousands of years as shown by the seeds being present in many of the stone age middens in this area. It is also thought that the decorated Bitou seeds found in this area might be the oldest jewellery known to man. These particular ones are thought to be from around 70 000 years ago.

They are most highly regarded these days for their ability to bind dune sand and thereby stabilizing loose soil.

Tags: Flora