Expedition no. 3: Visit to Ngomakurira, Chinhamora CL: 17 Jun 2007

An account of a Tree Society outing to Ngomakurira by Bernard Beekes

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The outing was well attended, and it was a cool cloudless day. Ngoma Kurira is one of the dominant hills of the Domboshawa area, about 30km north of Harare. It is a granite hilly area lying in the headwaters of the Mazoe River. The soils are reddish, coarse and sandy, recently formed, with little clay or organic content. These soils were very deep at the base of the hill, getting shallower and more rocky as we climbed, and almost completely absent at the higher levels. The relatively flat land lying between the hills is fairly densely populated, and most of the original trees have been cut out, leaving mostly the fruiting trees Uapaca kirkiana and Parinari curatellifolia. Although the hills are relatively well-forested still, commercial and domestic woodcutting is taking an increasing toll on the trees.

On the hill itself, as we climbed to the saddle, and then crossed the bare granite to the stream, we passed through three distinct zones:

Hillside zone. This zone itself was in three separate subzones. At the base, a subzone dominated by Uapaca kirkiana, in the middle a subzone dominated by Julbernardia globiflora, at the top a subzone dominated by Brachystegia tamarindoides, the well-known, but re/renamed, mountain acacia. The mountain acacia usually grows on hilltops, or in rocky areas. With its thin bark and its vulnerable root system growing near the surface, often in leaf mould, the mountain acacia is very vulnerable to bushfires, and hence tends to favour rocky areas where fires seldom reach. Two subspecies of Syzygium guineense were seen. Here on the hillside, it was the common subspecies guineense. A notable feature of the day, was that not one specimen of Brachystegia spiciformis was seen.

Bare granite zone. Plants growing in the very little soil that collects here in the cracks and crevices are very seldom burnt, and here exists one of the unique flora zones in Zimbabwe. Many herbs are endemic to this small area. An eastern highlands special Erythroxylum emarginatum with its unusual crackly leaves was exciting. Securidaca longipedunculata, the tree violet, was full of its pinky winged seeds. These seeds change to a straw colour when they are ripe and are ready for wind dispersal. This tree is highly poisonous - particularly its roots, which are used for inducing abortions, or for ritual suicide. A fine large specimen of Peltophorum africanum was nearby.

Riverine. In this type of very rocky area, one of the few places where soil collects is in the steep valleys where the seasonal streams flow. Here the Syzygium guineense subsp. afromontanum was gloriously in flower. Another interesting tree was a Englerophytum magalismontanum, the stamvrug, or stem fruit, with branches full of the light brown bosses, which had borne the edible fruit after which the tree is named

The whole area was rich in different varieties of trees, as detailed in the alphabetical list below:

Albizia antunesiana; Antidesma venosum; Brachylaena rotundata; Brachystegia tamarindoides; Bridelia cathartica; Burkea africana; Cassia abbreviata; Combretum molle; Combretum zeyheri; Dalbergia nitidula; Diospyros nummularia; Diplorhynchus condylocarpon; Dodonaea viscosa; Elephantorrhiza goetzei subsp; Englerophytum magalismontanum; Erythroxylum emarginatum; Euclea natalensis subsp. acutifolia; Euphorbia matabelensis; Faurea saligna subsp. saligna; Ficus glumosa; Ficus natalensis; Gymnosporia senegalensis; Heteropyxis dehniae; Hexalobus monopetalus; Julbernardia globiflora; Lannea discolor; Margaritaria discoidea var discoidea; Mimusops zeyheri; Ochna schweinfurthiana; Olinia vanguerioides; Oxyanthus speciosus; Ozoroa insignis; Pappea capensis; Parinari curatellifolia; Peltophorum africanum; Pittosporum viridiflorum; Protea angolensis; Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia var maprouneifolia; Pterocarpus angolensis; Rhoicissus tridentata; Rhus leptodictya; Rhus longipes; Rhynchosia resinosa; Securidaca longipedunculata; Senna singueana; Steganotaenia araliacea; Strychnos spinosa; Syzygium guineense subsp. guineense; Syzygium guineense subsp. afromontanum; Tapiphyllum velutinum; Tricalysia niamniamensis; Uapaca kirkiana; Vangueria infausta; Vitex payos; and Zanha Africana.

Bernard Beekes

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Expedition no. 3: Visit to Ngomakurira, Chinhamora CL.
https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/outing-display.php?outing_id=3, retrieved 26 May 2024

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