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Tree: Tamboti (Spirostachys africanus)

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DuQues
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Tree: Tamboti (Spirostachys africanus)

Unread postby DuQues » Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:16 pm

Tamboti (Spirostachys africanus)

Malpighiales
- Euphorbiaceae
- Euphorbioideae
- Hippomaneae
- Spirostachys

Synonyms: Excoecaria africana (Muell. Arg.), Sapium africanum (Kuntze)
The generic name, Spirostachys refers to the spiral arrangement of the flowers on the spike, and africana means from Africa.

Common names: African mahogany tree, African sandalwood, cape sandalwood, jumping bean seed, sandaleen wood, tamboti

Afrikaans: Tamboetie
Swazi: Umthomobtsi
Setswana: Morukuru
Swahili: Mliwa
Zulu: umThombothi
Northern Sotho: Modiba
siSwati: umThombotsi
Tsonga: Ndzopfori
Tswana: Morukuru
tshiVenda: Muonze

Image
(Photo by Craigsa)

Distribution
Spirostachys africana occurs naturally from KwaZulu-Natal in the South to Tanzania in the North. It is common in the Lowveld and occurs in all soil types. It is most often seen in groups of a few big trees along the rivers or streambanks, but may also grow in large groups of small trees. This tree can also be found growing in all southern African countries except Lesotho.

Appearance
The tree is fairly drought and frost resistant, but grows very slowly. They can grow upto 18m tall.
Its characteristic bark is dark brown to black, thick, rough and neatly cracked into regular rectangular blocks that are arranged in longitudinal rows. Leaves are alternate, simple and are up to 70 x 35 mm and the margins are finely toothed. The young, red leaves are often visible among the older, green leaves in spring. The flowerheads are 15-30 mm long, bearing mostly male and a few female flowers. The female flowers are attached at the base of each spike. Flowering takes place in August to September before the new leaves appear. The flowering spikes of this plant are unusual in appearance as the male flowers appear gold-coloured because of the pollen whereas female flowers are blood red. The fruit is a capsule that is three-lobed and opens with an exploding sound that can be heard on hot summer days when ripe (from October to February). The tamboti is one of the 'jumping bean' trees because the seeds become infested with the larvae of a small grey moth, which then causes the seed to jump centimetres into the air.

Warning
The branchlets when broken produce thick white latex, which is poisonous, but not always present. The sap is quite poisonous - in fact you can fish by throwing a Tambotie branch into the water and waiting for the fish to float to the surface. The sap may also cause blindness or blisters on the skin if contact is made. The sawdust is very dangerous, irritating the eyes of sawyers, and may even cause blindness.
Although the latex is very toxic to humans it does have traditional medicinal uses, for example, a drop of the fresh latex is applied to a painful tooth as painkiller. The bark is used to treat stomach pains but large dosages will cause damage to the internal organs.
Meat cooked over a fire made from the wood of this tree causes severe diarrhoea, death may occur.

Feeding
Francolins, guineafowl and doves eat the fruits. Kudu, nyala, impala and vervet monkeys, elephants, bushbuck, giraffe and eland feed on fresh leaves of this tree and the black rhino eat the young branches. Duiker, impala and nyala also feed on the dry fallen leaves of this tree.

Uses
The wood has a wonderful scent, which is even stronger when burned, but the smoke can be toxic and would poison any food cooked over it. The natives used to use it to kill an exposed tooth nerve - permanently.
The wood is extremely handsome and makes attractive furniture. It is exported from East Africa as a substitute for sandalwood. The wood is unsuitable for ox-yokes since it produces a "burning" effect on the animals necks. The wood is so strong that you can also make gun-stocks or arrows from it and is still used traditionally for fencing, hut rafters, walking sticks and necklaces.
The wood is also used to keep insects away.

Status
The tamboti is a protected tree in South Africa by the The Flora Protection Act of 31st October, 1952.
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Re: Tamboti (Spirostachys africanus)

Unread postby madach » Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:08 pm

DuQues wrote:Kudu, nyala, impala and vervet monkeys, elephants, bushbuck, giraffe and eland feed on fresh leaves of this tree and the black rhino eat the young branches. Duiker, impala and nyala also feed on the dry fallen leaves of this tree.

:hmz: As far as I know only giraffe, black rhino and porcupine eat Tamboti. I've never heard of, or read about, other animals feeding on this tree. Where did you get this info?

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DuQues
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Unread postby DuQues » Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:09 pm

From several websites, and not websites by just "people", but scientific ones....

But I stand to be corrected...
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Tamboti

Unread postby Stephen » Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:39 pm

:D Greetings from Biyamiti

Quite correct DuQues, I have seen the following species utilizing the Tamboti Tree:

Kudu, impala, vervet monkeys, elephants, bushbuck, giraffe, porcupine and black rhino. An elephant recently de-barked a Tamboti on out 4k's - I was quite amazed to see it.

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Unread postby Imberbe » Sat Apr 29, 2006 3:56 pm

The Tamboti is one of my favourite trees. They are beautiful, especially when forming a big stand. Some big trees up north in Kruger, around Punda Maria and Pafuri, but can be confused with the Nyala Tree if you are not careful.

One note on the distribution notes DuQues gave. It was stated that they occur on all soil types. (Alla Sappi Tree-spotting) This needs some foot notes. They actually prefer heavy soils such as clay areas, and areas next to rivers.

This does not mean that you will not find them in other soils, even in sandy areas. But have a close look when you find them there. Usually you will find the Tamboti on a Termite mound. Termites often dig deep to get clay to help construct their mounds. The nature of a termite mound, is a heavy compacted type of soil.

This again shows the wonderfull interaction you find in nature!
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Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Sun Apr 30, 2006 8:42 pm

I have a friend who does carving. Tamboti is one of his favourite woods.
Last time I went to Kruger on a camp there was a Tamboti tree in the camp. I thought it was rather "fragile" to be polite.. "insipid" to be brutal.
Was that just that it was the worst of dry season, or can the Tamboti look rather apologetic.
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Unread postby Imberbe » Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:27 pm

I have seen all shapes and sizes, which is usually a result of factors such as the type of soil, animal pressure and water availability. The tree you refer to, probably had a difficult time! :(

I have seen one tree in Marakele NP (standing on a termite mound in a very sandy area) which is big, but full of holes and quite distorted - beautiful in its own way.

I always find the dark rough bark very appealing! It makes a beautiful contrast with some of the other bushveld trees.
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Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:41 pm

Maybe that is why it is just so beautifull for art. I am learning that like us, each tree carries its own history.
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Re: Tamboti (Spirostachys africanus)

Unread postby bentley » Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:55 am

On a morning bush walk the field guides told us how poisonous this tree was, their discription on the diarrhoea on just inhailling a bit of the smoke when burning the wood was quite the laugh but point was taken. The best thing a person could do is to rather leave this tree be...unless you have no will to live or you think you need a detox :lol: :lol:
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Re: Tamboti (Spirostachys africanus)

Unread postby Imberbe » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:50 pm

And yet ... animals such as black rhino and even kudu eat it ... :shock:
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Re: Tamboti (Spirostachys africanus)

Unread postby bentley » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:54 pm

Just shows us how inferior we truely are compared to nature..sad but true.
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Rice crispies tree

Unread postby Butterbee » Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:26 pm

Hi everyone!
I was travelling on the road from lower sabie to croc bridge at the beginning of October, we had stopped to look at some ellies so everything was quiet, except for a crackling sound coming from a tree/bush next to us on the side of the road. it sounded like rice crispies!! we couldnt see anything, but it was definately coming from the tree. i presume it was seeds popping or maybe just dry leaves rattling together or something. Very strange/interesting, never seen or heard this before.
Does anyone know what type of tree/bush this is?

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Re: Rice crispies tree

Unread postby forestgump » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:43 pm

sounds like a pistol bush ,Duvernoia adhatodoides.
In spring their fruit capsules burst open with a loud audible crack.
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Re: Rice crispies tree

Unread postby Jakkalsbessie » Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:46 am

Butterbee wrote:Hi everyone!
I was travelling on the road from lower sabie to croc bridge at the beginning of October, we had stopped to look at some ellies so everything was quiet, except for a crackling sound coming from a tree/bush next to us on the side of the road. it sounded like rice crispies!! we couldnt see anything, but it was definately coming from the tree. i presume it was seeds popping or maybe just dry leaves rattling together or something. Very strange/interesting, never seen or heard this before.
Does anyone know what type of tree/bush this is?

Hi Butterbee,

I would say your tree as the Tamboti tree (Tambotie (Afr.)), Spirostachys Africana.

The Tamboti is 1 of the 'jumping bean' trees because the seeds become infested with the larvae of the Knotthorn Moth (Melanobasis) which then causes the seed to jump. As the larvae hatches, the catepillar begin to retract and straighten out rapidly in an effort to escape and this makes the outer casing appear to jump! There is a consistent clicking sound near the tree as all the little woody seed cases hop about 8)
Very interesting to watch :D
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Re: Rice crispies tree

Unread postby Shidzidzii » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:14 am

In the book Jock of the Bushveld it's called a Jumping bean tree .
Sir Percy described how a visitor in camp was sitting eating his breakfast when he saw a Jumping bean jump . He thought he was seeing pink elephants and left the bush for the city .


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