Trees of Namibia
The red bushwillow is a small to medium-sized tree that normally grows between 3-6m, although some can reach up to 10m. It is a deciduous tree with a short, crooked trunk and is often multi-stemmed from the base, with a sparse, spreading crown. The bark on this tree is greyish-black, cracked and flakes with age. The leaves are opposite and hairless and turn brownish-red to golden-yellow in autumn, up to 140 x80mm, the tips ending abruptly in a slender, twisted point. Younger leaves growth is 'sticky'. Flowers are creamy and scented and crowded in spikes, up to 70mm long and bloom September-February. The 4-winged fruits are sticky when young, and yellowish-green to reddish-brown in colour and ripen January-May.
The red bushwillow is widespread and dominant in woodland on well-drained soils from central to northern Namibia. The leaves are browsed by game and cattle and are used in traditional medicines. The flowers attract insects which in turn attract birds, in particular parrots which eat the seeds. Butterfly caterpillars feed on the leaves. Beware! The seeds are poisonous and can cause prolonged hiccuping. The timber is very hard, fine-grained and termite resistant and is used for fence posts and firewood. It is grown from seed and can grow in the cold but it is not frost resistant.
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