Miombo is the Swahili word for Brachystegia, a genus of trees comprising a large number of species. Miombo Woodland is classified in the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrublands biome. This biome is characterised by the presence of Miombo species, which produce a flush of new leaves just before the onset of the rainy season. The rich gold and red colours mask the underlying chlorophyll, reminiscent of temperate autumn colours.

The bark of Brachystegia spiciformis (musasa) contains tannin which is used as the final dressing in tanning hides. This gives the characteristic reddish colour to the finished product. An infusion of the roots, on the other hand, provides a treatment for dysentery and diarrhoea. A decoction is applied as eyewash in cases of conjunctivitis.

The wood of the Guibourtia coleosperma (large false mopane) is attractive with a soft pink brownish colour and is commercially known as umchibi. The seeds and arils are used for food. Sterculia quinqueloba (large-leaved star chestnut) grows on rocky koppies and hill slopes. This is a conspicuous tree with a pale, almost white trunk. The wood, however, is reddish brown and is sometimes used for furniture.

Visit SANBI’s plant information website for information on the plants in our Garden and more.

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