Germinating and Growing

Common African Indigenous Trees

 

 

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Buffalo Thorn

Ziziphus mucronata
 

 

1/ Grows easily from seed, with a germination rate of at least 75%. Between 700 and 1100 fruits weigh 1 kg.  Sow in seedling trays in river sand. Cover with a thin layer of river sand and keep moist. Seeds usually germinate in 2-3 weeks. Seedlings have long taproots and care should be taken not to damage these while they are being transplanted into nursery bags. A fast-growing tree with a growth rate of 4-6 m in four years. A very hardy species, resistant to both frost and drought. It is a protected tree in the Free State.

 

 

2/ The species is very easily raised from seed or cuttings, growing in just about any soil type and withstanding heat and cold equally well.

The seed however has poor keeping properties and should be sown fresh. After cleaning the nut, it can be placed between the jaws of a vice or a normal nutcracker and closed gradually until the nut cracks and seed is released. The seeds can then be covered with hot water, allowed to cool, soaked for two days and sown.

Seedlings should appear within one to two weeks. Seedlings and small plants need moderate water, full sun and efficient drainage or they will damp off. Even though this plant is said to be one of the most adaptable trees, growing in all types of soil and having the ability to withstand intense heat, cold and drought, the same cannot be said for the seedlings. As with most plants, immunity is acquired with increased stature. Small trees are often available at nurseries selling indigenous plants.

While slow-growing (0.3 m or less per annum), it makes a pleasant shade tree and gives life to the garden by luring birds and insects such as butterflies, beetles and bees.

 

 

3/ The seeds germinate fairly easily, but they should be removed from the stone by breaking it with a hammer. It requires 2 months to germinate inside the stone, and only 2-3 weeks when extracted. The seeds can be treated by soaking them in cold water and sowing them directly into single containers. The seedlings are adapted to all soil types and grow reasonably fast. They are equally resistant to intense heat and cold. Under good conditions they will reach 4-6 metres in 4-5 years. The tree attracts birds and is highly recommended as a garden tree.

 

 

4/ Pure river sand in seedling trays are the best option to sow the seeds. Keep moist once you have planted the seeds and give them a thin covering of river sand. Germination takes between 2-3 weeks. They will transplant quite easily into black nursery bags if care is taken not to damage their long delicate roots.

(Tip: When ready to plant the sapling into the ground, position a 50mm size x 1m length of plastic piping vertically near to the sapling, leaving +- 5cm above ground level. When watering around the sapling, also pour water into this pipe, as it will encourage the roots to grow downwards looking for the moisture below. Keep the ground around the sapling well mulched with dry leaves, etc. to assist with water retention above ground.)


 

 

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This web page was last updated on: 07 August, 2012