Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

The Trees of Marromeu Complex

As I have mentioned before, our guide Dylan was a walking encyclopedia of all things Mozambique!!! He would happily stop for trees, flowers and everything in between!!

On our first day out, he pointed to the damage to one of the trees ……

He told us that this was done by Porcupines and that some substance in the tree gets into the porcupine’s bloodstream and protects it from ticks and fleas. Isn’t that amazing!!!

I don’t remember the name of this particular tree variety but the look of the tree is astounding….

When we were in the swamp areas, we were surrounded by white-barked Fever Trees……

These trees got their name from the explorers who came thru the area. They would sleep under the trees at night and when many of them caught a fever, they thought that it was the tree that was causing the disease. In reality, it was probably a form of Malaria and was being caused by the mosquitos that lived in the trees.

We passed many of these multi-trunked trees……

….and learned that they were a type of Torchwood. These trees got their name because the leaves have a cotton-type fiber at one end and it can be lit and will burn like a lamp or torch.

Dylan ground to a stop so that I could photograph a dead African Blackwood Tree.

From a distance, it doesn’t look like much. After a quick close-up look at the tree, I called for Michael to join me and we spent at least 10 minutes examining the bark and admiring this gorgeous tree.

The wood from these trees is often used to make the black keys on pianos.

We passed numerous Palm trees with soft leaves….

The leaves are used to make shower mats and other household objects. And, as a matter of fact, they were used to make “hats” for the outdoor lights in Mungari camp…..

As we were walking around the tree, Dylan warned us to avoid the HUGE thorns that are the base of each leaf…..


At this stage, he started talking about the termite mounds that we have seen everywhere……

He said that they are often associated with one of the palm trees and you can see the tree peeking out from behind this mound!! These termites are NOT wood eaters. They take plant material into the nest and grow a fungus on the plant matter. Then, they eat the fungus!! So they are harvesters and are not destructive to the areas and won’t even harm the trees that they grow around!!

The mounds are intricate structures and much like an iceberg, only 1/3 of the mound is visible with the other 2/3rds below ground.

The mounds are also temperature controlled!! The framework contains pores that can be opened or closed depending on where the sun is or where the prevailing wind is coming from. The temperature change can be as great as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, the mounds have a symbiotic relationship with the trees…..the trees feed off of the nitrogen that the mound produces!!

But, my favorite tree memory is from the Pod Mahogany tree. When we were stopped one afternoon, he reached down and picked up a black, kidney-shaped object. He then took a hatchet and started chopping it to get it open. Enjoy the video……

As you can tell from Michael’s and my exclamations, we were VERY surprised to see the seeds inside the pod, and even more surprised when we learned that they contain traces of Cyanide!!

Aren’t they the most AMAZING color?

Dylan told us that the Silvery Cheeked Hornbill eats these seeds but, since they don’t have a hatchet handy, I can’t imagine how they actually break into them.

Come back tomorrow for a look at some of the flowers and foliage!!

3 thoughts on “The Trees of Marromeu Complex

  1. Frances. I love the study of your trees. Trees are one of my favorite things. Does Dyan speak English? His knowledge is amazing. Did you get a photo of the mahogany tree? and is the same tree that is used to make furniture. My father worked in furniture and knew alot about wood. I gues that is where I get my interest in trees Jodie

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