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Omumborombonga or Leadwood Tree

Trees of Namibia

This is an ancestral tree that grows north of Windhoek in both highland savanna and sandveld woodlands. This magnificent tree is also common throughout Etosha National Park and they normally occur singly, often growing near waterholes. It is called the leadwood (Combretum imberbe) in English as its wood is the heaviest in the world. They are also known as Ahnenbaum in German, hardekool in Afrikaans as well as its Herero name.

According to Herero storytellers it was out of the first Omumborombonga tree that the first human beings (a man and a woman) came forth. The wild animals of the veld, as well as the cattle and the sheep, came out of this tree, but the Bergdama (black slaves) came out of a rock as did goats and baboons. In time, all Omumborombonga trees came to be venerated and wayfarers would address them as 'father' and entreat them to grant a prosperous journey. Its general appearance is pale and yellowish green, as the foliage and four-winged seeds are yellow-green.

Elephant, giraffe, kudu and other antelope browse its leaves, whilst rhino feed on the branches. As the wood is very hard, heavy and durable, (weighing 1,200kg/m³), it is so heavy that it sinks to the bottom of a river or dam. Leadwood is termite resistant and makes excellent firewood and charcoal

Trees of Namibia

  • Windhoek: Windhoek Market
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