Bushveld Mosaic: Trees weekend – Borakalalo: 11-13 March 2022

Report and photographs by Waldemar Wellmann

After negotiating the somewhat treacherous road to Borakalalo National Park (Peter assures us that it has never been in such a good condition), we arrived for the second time at Fish Eagle Camp. 

The Moretele River banked by trees making it’s way to Fish Eagle Camp

The focus of the weekend was to be trees. The camp was quiet as everyone was cramming for the grasses test, which we anticipated with some apprehension. After the grasses test, we received our ecology/taxonomy test results. We then gathered at the campfire to relax, ponder the significant gaps in our grasses knowledge, and for the Bittereinder Braaiers to prepare their meals. Maeva enlivened the atmosphere by having an epic battle with a spider in the shower.

Saturday morning, bright and not so early, we returned to the admin block to commence with an introductory lecture on trees, ably presented by Hennie de Beer. After lunch, we made the somewhat complex and challenging acquaintance with a tree key. Thea assisted us in choosing the most difficult trees imaginable to subject to the “key”, including one which had apparently never made it into the key. Late afternoon we eloped to Klipvoor Dam to identify more trees and for some “motivational” refreshments.

Students who attended the trees weekend with Honorary Officer Thea Heyns-Galanakis and lecturer Hennie de Beer

On Sunday morning, we ventured into the bush again to identify some more trees.

The yellow flowers of Vachellia erioloba (camel thorn)
The thorns and pods of Vachellia karroo (sweet thorn)
Euclea undulata (common guarri), which provides a habitat for spiders
A random butterfly and baboon tail, while not a tree, was interesting to see

With this having been our third weekend of the BM course, we are steadily becoming more and more enmeshed in the fascinating world of the bushveld.

Many thanks to Peter, Thea and Hennie for a most enjoyable and enriching weekend.