Tree of the year for 2019 is Sclerocarya birrea; Maroela tree, an iconic African symbol. Found in numbers in the warmer parts of southern Africa and further north . Historically this tree was brought south by the bantu tribes as they migrated down the eastern parts of Africa. It has spiritual as well as nutritional value to many cultures.
The tree is generally single stemmed, heavy in size with a beautiful spreading canopy (called home by many birds, smaller animals, insects etc). Semi evergreen in some areas while totally deciduous in cooler regions flowering in early spring and bearing fruit which ripens December- February
The tree provides a very nutritious fruit, in abundance which is eaten by elephant, giraffe many antelope species, warthogs. It has 8 times the value in vitamin C than an orange
It is rumoured that elephant are known to become intoxicated after feasting on the fruit which generally ripens on the ground below the trees. However it would require many ripening maroela fruits to be consumed to produce even a mild rush. Those elephant I have met in bush pubs never seem to ever display any signs of drunkenness
These trees despite their great heritage in the African culture are now being harvested for charcoal throughout eastern Africa.