Silver Cluster-Leaf - Terminalia sericea
Combretaceae - Bushwillow family
SA Tree no 551
It prefers deep, well-drained, sandy soils and is particularly prolific on the mid- slope seep- lines of these Ecozones, where it grows in dense groups of various sizes. It is very common in the higher rainfall areas.
This is a silvery-blue, upright, single-trunked tree. The branches leave the trunk at different levels to form distinct, horizontal layers. The young leaves have silver hairs, giving the tree a characteristic silver shine.
The rough, dark bark is deeply fissured lengthwise. It is a medium to large tree, the height being 6 - 20 m, with moderate density.(4 - 6 m, up to 10 m????) The slender branchlets are dark brown or purplish, peeling and flaking in rings and strips, exposing light brown under bark; young stems are often parasitised and, as a result, bear round galls often up to 2 or 3 cm in diameter, frequently with leaves growing from them.
Links with animals - Although the nutritional values is low, leaves and young shoots are eaten by elephant, giraffe, kudu and impala. Dry leaves on the ground are eaten by wildebeest, and the branches are eaten by elephant and giraffe.
Human uses - The wood is used for fence poles, household goods, firewood and axe handles, The gum is eaten. Extracts of the bark are used as an antidote to poisons, and for tanning. The silky silvery hairs are used by Tswana potters for glazing their wares. The wood is yellow and hard; it provides a useful general purpose timber and is suitable for furniture; fencing posts cut from these trees are long lasting.
Gardening - This tree grows well in deep, sandy soils and may be an attractive addition to gardens. It is fairly frost and draught-resistant, but is difficult to grow from the few undamaged seeds to be found.
Leaves - Simple, spirally arranged towards the end of the branches, narrowly obovate-elliptic with a smooth margin. The leaves are pale green, covered by silky, silver hairs, which give a characteristic sheen, lateral veins obscure; apex broadly tapering to rounded; base narrowly tapering; margin entire; petiole up to 10 mm long. (100 x 25 mm)
Flowers - Inconspicuous, in axillary spikes up to 7 cm long, heavily and rather unpleasantly, sweet-scented, off-white to yellow flowers appear in October to December. (4 mm) (September to January???)
Pods - Two-winged pods are produced in bunches at the ends of the branches. Pods ripen during March and April, and change from light red to light brown in colour. (January to June: 60 x 15 mm) They remain on the tree almost until the following flowering season.
Best places to see the Silver Cluster-Leaf in Southern Africa:
The Silver Cluster-Leaf is found in the Kruger National Park in the Mixed Bushwillow Woodlands, Pretoriuskop Sourveld, Malelane Mountain Bushveld, Sandveld & Mopane / Bushwillow Woodlands ecozones.