The Wild Coast Sun in the Eastern Cape is doing its bit for national Arbor Week by planting and encouraging staff to help foster a culture of tree planting and maintenance.
Wild Coast Sun General Manager, Peter Tshidi, set the trend by planting a Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica) in the property’s organic vegetable and herb garden as part of Arbor Week, celebrated every year in the first week of September.
“We are trying to do our bit by encouraging the planting of indigenous trees that are found in the local area of the Eastern Cape and lower South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal,” Tshidi said.
The Natal mahogany is an evergreen tree with dark green glossy leaves and a wide-spreading crown, and its sweet-scented flowers will attract bees and birds to gardens.
As part of Arbor Week, Wild Coast Sun staff were also each invited to receive the common tree of the year for 2021, the Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra), to take home and to plant in their own gardens.
Hailed as a “very special” or “wonder” plant, the Spekboom, also known as Pork Bush or Elephant Jade, is an indigenous evergreen able to tackle carbon emissions like few other plants. It is one of the best carbon sequestrators in the world, with one hectare of Spekboom estimated to be able to remove between 4 and 10 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere per year.
The tree is found predominantly in the semi-arid Karoo region of the Eastern Cape where it can survive even harsh drought conditions. It is able to live up to 200 years.
The Wild Coast Sun also donated Natal Mahogany’s, Spekboom and several other waterwise plants to Ebenezer and Free Methodist Junior Secondary Schools in the province.
The Natal Mahogany is widely distributed in the eastern part of South Africa, from KwaZulu-Natal through to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and northwards throughout the rest of Africa. It occurs naturally in riverine forest and bushveld where its leaves are provided food for game.
Its flowers are visited by sunbirds that feed on the nectar which are also a favourite of monkeys. The fruit is eaten by baboons, monkeys and antelope and the seeds are eaten by birds. The powdered bark of Trichilia emetica is a popular remedy for stomach and intestinal ailments.
The Natal Mahogany is a fast grower and can be planted throughout the year and is able to tolerate moderate winter drought and slight frost. Ideally, the species prefers full sun or semi-shaded areas, in soil with compost and moderate amounts of water.
“All of us have a role to play in protecting and preserving our planet and our indigenous flora and fauna for this, but especially future generations,” Tshidi said.