Is it a tree? Is it a grass No, it’s a ……

Time for a small change, from Fauna to Flora.

If you drive around Pilanesberg at the moment you can’t help but notice the clumps of white vegetation all over the place.

The first one I drove past I could just make out the distinctive straight paired thorns of an acacia, or to be more correct a Vachelli, but which one?

A little further on, I came across another one, closer to the road, and thought, this is my chance to ID it correctly. But then the confusion set in, as this tree had the very distinctive Searsia lancea leaf.

Totally confused, I drove on, and there it was again, but this time at was just a little shrub

With my interest aroused  I took some close up’s, in order to enlist the help of the other HO’s on duty.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

If you don’t know what it is, and want to try and ID it, then now is the time, as lucky for me, a number of the HO’s were able to tell me exactly what it is.

It’s a…….

 

 

Creeper called Travers Joy or Old man’s beard (should have guessed). Other names are lemoenbloeisels (Afr.); morara (S); umdlonzo (isiZulu).

It’s scientific name is Clematis brachiata and here are some interesting facts about it, provided by

Cherise Viljoen of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (March 2002)

Description

It is a deciduous climber or scrambler that can reach up to 5m.

It has slender, twining woody stems and bears masses of small, sweetly scented, creamy white flowers in late summer and autumn (February to May). T

The flowers are followed by large, fluffy, decorative seedheads that persist on the plant until well after mid-winter (July-August). These are formed by long, graceful, feathery tails attached to each seed, which assist in wind dispersal.

Derivation of name and historical aspects

Clematis is a large genus of roughly 230 species that includes many herbaceous perennials, but only four species occur in southern Africa. The name is derived from the Greek name klematis, from klema meaning a vine and Latin brachiata meaning branched at right angles, arm-like, and refers to the way this species side branches come off at right-angles to the stem.

Uses

The name traveller’s joy must have come about because of all its wonderful medicinal properties that were useful to the traveller in days gone by when all travel was either on foot or on horseback.

Leaves packed into the shoes were used to ease blisters and aches and pains, and packed under the saddle to prevent saddle sores on horses.

A tea made of the leaves (¼ cup fresh leaves in 1 cup of boiling water, stand to draw for 5 minutes then strain and drink, sweetened with honey if desired) is not only refreshing but is used by the Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, and Tswana to ease headaches, coughs and colds, chest ailments and abdominal upsets. The tea is also a soothing wash for aching feet, soothes cracked skin and blisters, and cooled it is used as an eyewash for tired red eyes.

If the stem and tendrils are crushed and the pungent scent inhaled it is believed to clear a blocked nose, ease painful sinus and induce sneezing.

Nicest of all, to ease aching muscles make a strong brew of leaves, stems, flowers and even seeds and add this to the bath water and soak in it.

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