11th July 2013: Leucosidea sericea

 

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Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest” where we will be looking at a plant species that most of you will be familiar with (although you may be surprised with some of its uses)

A woody species, Leucosidea sericea (commonly known as Old-wood, Ouhout in Afrikaans, or Che-che in Sisotho) is derived from the Greek word leukos meaning white – the overall appearance of the leaves, and sericea refers to the silky texture of the leaves. Ouhout is a prominent plant and is therefore easy to spot in and around Clarens – there are no similar looking naturally occurring woody plants that it could be confused for. It is visible on most of the hiking trails and throughout the reserve and riparian areas in the eastern Free State region. L. sericea grows from 1000 – 2400 m A.S.L. and has the ability to dominate areas of disturbance, erosion and overgrazing, thereby playing a role in landscape management. Habitats where it grows include high altitude grasslands, kloofs, north and west facing slopes, along rivers and streams and wooded rocky ridges. The tree has a gnarled windblown appearance and the leaves are compound, some turning a characteristic yellow in autumn. Ouhout has several human health, gardening and animal related uses including:

– Used as a durable fence-pole in permanently wet places

– Crushed leaves are soaked and used to treat eye infections

– Makes a good fire-wood

– Believed to bare magical properties such as protecting the inhabitants of homesteads

– Used as a wind break or garden ornamental in frost prone areas

– Grows quickly from seed and cuttings and therefore makes a suitable bonsai

– Browsed by cattle, goats and eland

It goes to show that nature has more planned than often meets one’s eye, even with a plant that is as abundantly growing and seemingly plain as the way under-valued Ouhout.

Article and photographs by Damien CoulsonDamien1-100x100

Author: Damien Coulson