Dyk Zeeman is regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost knowledgeable people when it comes to trees of Southern Africa. He spent some time at Likweti to get to know the enormous diversity there is to be found here.
Tree expert Dyk Zeeman spent some time at Likweti to get to know the enormous diversity there is to be found here.
Dyk Zeeman is regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost knowledgeable people when it comes to trees of Southern Africa. He has done every available course and has written every available exam there is on trees and their identification. This definitely makes him the right guy for identifying, tagging and listing trees. According to him there are some 1600 tree species in southern Africa and although he admits that he doesn’t know them all, he definitely knows most of them.
After he visited Likweti we caught up with him to hear what he had to say about the trees. According to Dyk the thing that makes Likweti such a diversity hotspot is the fact that the White River Runs right through it. So apart from having high granite koppies and lower laying grasslands, it also has lush vegetation and river front.
“Probably the single most impressive thing I saw at Likweti was a cluster of Wild Fig trees on a rocky hill,” says Dyk. “Although these trees are relatively common in these parts, it is not quite common that you would find them together like this. It truly is a magnificent site.”
While Dyk was at Likweti he managed to tag some 198 trees that included 106 different species. “This is quite an impressive number for the size of the property and I didn’t even get to explore all areas of it,” he explains.
Dyk was also rather impressed with the giant Matumi trees that grow next to the river. These trees are large evergreen trees that can grow up to 30m. The wood is very sought after for furniture and the bark is often used for its medicinal properties.
There are also many plants with edible fruit which include the Spiny Monkey Orange and Lowveld Chestnut. According to Dyk he has heard stories that the seeds of the Lowveld Chestnut can be roasted and eaten. He does admit though that he has never tried it.
The fruit of the Spiny Monkey Orange (Strychnos spinosa) is often eaten by animals and humans but the seeds are not. The genus name Strychnos taken from the Greek word for deadly, which refers to the poisonous alkaloids contained in the seed. Spinosa refers to the spines. The poison strychnine is derived from an Asian species of Strychnos.
These are just a few of the fascinating trees found at Likweti which really boasts a diverse variety of fauna and flora to enjoy.