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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 less well known shrubby plant species found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.

Searsia erosa or Broom Curry-rhus (known as Besem Keree-rhus in Afrikaans), are large shrubs with multiple stems that are densely branched. The overall appearance is round, compact and with a soft outline. The leaves are a distinctive lime – olive/Khaki green that is noticeable from a distance. The bark is reddish-brown and wiry. The leaves themselves are trifoliate (compound with 3 leaflets), have jagged edges, sharp points and covered in a sticky resin. The flowers are a creamy white and occur in small stalked heads.
The Broom curry-rhus grows at altitudes of up to 1900 m A.S.L., and is endemic to the Besem Karee Koppies habitat type. It grows in Grassland plains; Rocky areas and on warm, stony and dry hill slopes. The plant was named after Paul B. Sears and the Latin word erosa means toothed or gnawed (referring to the shape of the leaves). It is also a hardy plant that is drought and frost resistant. Some of the uses of S. erosa include:
·       Historically used as a substitute for brooms (hence the common name)
·       Used as a soil erosion control mechanism
·       Used as a garden ornamental
·       Said to be used by the Sisotho people and burned in traditional ceremonies to chase away evil spirits and to encourage rain
·       Some parts of the plant were reportedly used to treat diarrhoea in humans as well as cattle.

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Damien Coulson


Author: Damien Coulson