Enter Buffalo Thorn on Google and a list of safari lodges pop up, poets write about it and I even have a friend that has a buffalo thorn twig tattooed over her ribs.
So what is the big deal with this tree?
It is clearly just one of those trees that make you think of Africa. With a gazillion of medicinal uses and beliefs about this tree, it is discussed in various plant and tree books. It was also a firm favourite for talks and discussions during my studies in Ecotourism at the Tshwane University of Technology.
This tree has zig-zag twigs with paired thorns, one straight and one hooked. The leaves are shiny on top. The Afrikaans name for this tree is “Blinkblaar-wag-‘n-bietjie” it directly translates to Shiny-leaf-wait-a-little. The waiting part refers to the paired thorns that will hook and delay you.
One of the beliefs I can remember from university days was that people believe if they plant this tree amongst homesteads it would divert lighting from hitting their homes. The lovely lightening shaped branches, makes this believe so much more interesting. Leaves, bark, roots and almost everything is used in various concoctions to fix ailments and diseases. Apparently you can eat the fruits on these trees, but they are not very tasty… I better try some this coming summer to confirm this.
Much to my surprise, I found a couple of these trees next to my house and surrounding areas. With the lack of indigenous trees found in the Free State, this discovery made me so happy. Seeing that they grow well here, I have decided to also try and plant one or two more close to my house this year. I just need to find a nursery that stocks them.
The Buffalo Thorn is one of the trees listed this year as tree of the year for South Africa.