The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa


Afrikaans name: Mopanie

The distinctive leaves

Mopane tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

Colophospermum mopane

Visitors to the region around Letaba and Olifants Camps, in Kruger National Park, can't help but be familiar with the Mopane tree. It is everywhere and it can prove a bit frustrating as these areas are not the best for game viewing.

The leaves of the Mopane tree are its distinctive feature. They are in pairs and are mirror images of eachother. They are like a pair of butterfly wings. The flowers are hardly noticeable as they are small and greenish in colour. The seedpods are produced during Autumn and are kidney shaped.

One species of mammal that has a fondness for the Mopane tree is the Elephant. They enjoy the leaves and seedpods. Domestic cattle can be fed the leaves as well although they apparently take some time to get used to the taste.

Have you ever hear of Mopane Worms? These are a protein rich delicacy that is eaten by many people. These abundant caterpillars are roasted, or they can be dried and stored for a few months.

The distinctive leaves

Leaves of the Mopane tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Trees of Southern Africa - Author: E. Palmer - Published: 1983 - Page: 151

A site-by-site guide to trees in the Kruger National Park - Author: Marissa Greeff - Published: 2017 - Page: 140

Field Guide to the Trees of the Kruger National Park - 5th edition - Author: Piet van Wyk - Published: 2008 - Page: 83

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 269

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 391

Kruger - Portrait of a National Park - Author: David Paynter with Wilf Nussey - Published: 1986 - Page: 28

Pocket Guide - Trees of Southern Africa - Author: Piet van Wyk - Published: 2013 - Page: 39

Pollinators, Predators and Parasites - Author: C. Scholtz, J. Scholtz, H. De Klerk - Published: 2021 - Page: 197

Sappi Tree Spotting: Bushveld - 2nd edition - Author: R Grant and V Thomas - Published: 2005 - Page: 34

Sappi Tree Spotting: Lowveld - Author: Jacana - Published: 1997 - Page: 104

Sappi Wild Flower Guide - Mpumalanga and Northern Province - Author: Jo Onderstall - Published: 1996 - Page: 90

Sasol First Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 1999 - Page: 22

The Gardener - 2021/01 - Author: - Published: 2021 - Page: 57

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 317

What Tree is That? - Author: Hazel Stokes - Published: 1967 - Page: 5

Wild Issue 28 - Author: - Published: 2014 - Page: 82


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