For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Buffalo Thorn Tree

The Buffalo Thorn (ziziphus mucronata) is a medium size tree and often found growing on termite mounds and has a small berry which matures into a reddish-brown color. These berries can be found for most of the year and make a passable coffee when ground. It has many medicinal uses one of them is a leaf paste which is used for boils and other skin infections. Sufferers of dysentary and lumbago either chew the root or drink and infusion made from it. The leaves and fruit provide useful fodder in times of drought.
To our Zulu people, it is a very sacred tree. The two thorns, one pointing straight and the other curved backwards, is believed to indicate the future (straight) and the past (curved).

When a Zulu dies far away from his birthplace, a small branch of the tree is pulled across his/her body and is believed to be able to capture the person’s spirit. This branch is then taken back to their home and buried there. If on the journey they use any kind of transport, busses, trains etc. they will pay for two people, one for themselves and one for the spirit of the person carried in the branch.

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