To increase awareness of South Africa’s beautiful indigenous tree species, two trees are highlighted each year as Tree of the Year – one common and one rare species.
The Common Tree of 2020 is the stunning 𝗖𝗮𝗽𝗲 𝗔𝘀𝗵 or 𝘌𝘬𝘦𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘪𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴 and the Rare Tree of 2020 is the incredibly sculptural 𝗕𝗼𝗮𝗯𝗮𝗯 or 𝘈𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘢 𝘥𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘢.
Union High School has a beautiful Cape Ash growing in front of the school’s main building off Donkin Street.
The tree has a tag identifying it as such, which was affixed to it as part of an Eco-Schools’ project during Union High School’s centenary celebrations, where all the indigenous trees on the school’s campus were labelled with tree tags.
The tag contains interesting information about the tree, including the national tree number, the botanical name as well as the English, Afrikaans and either isiXhosa or isiZulu name.
The Cape Ash is a magnificent tree, well-worth planting. An evergreen fruit-bearing tree, the Cape Ash can grow up to 15m high. Its trunk and stems are greyish black, with large, glossy green leaves often with pink edges. On occasion, the tree shows its beautiful white, scented flowers in summer along with seeded red fruit enjoyed by birds and small animals. Historically, the Cape Ash was used as a decorative street tree, offering good shade and some resistance to drought conditions.
𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄: The Cape ash belongs to the Mahogany family. It is the host plant for the fastest flying butterfly in Africa, namely the White-barred Emperor butterfly. 𝘌𝘬𝘦𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘪𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴 was named after Carl Gustov Ekeberg, a Swedish ship’s captain who worked for the Dutch East India Company.
“It is important that we recognise the role that trees play in our lives. Trees not only provide oxygen, fruit and nuts but also absorb carbon dioxide and beautify the environment and are an important link in the ecosystem. It is remarkable how a bland landscape can be immediately transformed into an inviting outdoor play area, and so many of us enjoy the beauty of leaves, shade and colour as seasons change. Learning how to preserve nature’s gifts and care for the environment is something we can all contribute to and enjoy by planting more trees and being mindful that bark stripping and littering prevents them from flourishing,” said Mrs Danelle Botes, facilitator of Union High School’s Eco-Schools’ efforts.
“𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘌𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘩 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘺, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘭𝘭, 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺.” – 𝗪𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝗕𝗲𝗿𝗿𝘆
Eco Representatives Tessa James, Kaitlin Kenmuir and Erin Gedult with Union’s magnificent Cape Ash.