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Saturday, 26 March 2016

It's finally happened - and a strange phenomena

The dead White Karee in my garden that I've been threatening to cut down, has finally happened. The hold-up was that the birds absolutely loved it. They would catch the early-morning sun from the top branches and the Fiscal Shrike used it as her look-out for prey. But I think it started becoming a bit of a danger lately. Many a morning I would find broken branches on the lawn and all I needed was for it to fall over and cause a lot of damage.

So at the end of January we tackled the job. Solly started by first removing the lower branches and then he tackled the main trunk. We calculated that the distance to the pond fence was far enough for the very top branches not to damage it when it fell.


Here it looks like Solly is bowing his head in a moment of silence for the fallen lady. I too sent up a silent little prayer, saying I'm sorry that she died but that we will remember her for ever.

As the tree came down, it hit a branch of the Acacia karroo next door. As I was checking for damage on the Acacia's branch and while we were removing the dead branches, I noticed something really peculiar. All the leaves on the Acacia branch were busy closing, and within minutes the whole branch up to the trunk had closed leaves.

Now I know Acacia trees pass on an ‘alarm signal’ to other trees when antelope browse on their leaves. When nibbled by antelope, the tree produces leaf tannin in quantities lethal to the browsers, and emit ethylene into the air which can travel up to 50 yards. The ethylene warns other trees of the impending danger, which then step up their own production of leaf tannin within just five to ten minutes. This is a defence mechanism against predators stripping them of all their foliage, causing them to die. So my tree obviously thought it was under attack from something and the defence mechanism immediately sprung into action. I checked some of my other Karoo's and noticed the same reaction on one of the trees about 10m away in the pond area. Amazing phenomena!

Then started the big job of reducing the branches to firewood and cleaning up the area.

It's amazing how hard the dead wood can be!

Almost finished, just the last part of the straight-up trunk and it's kudo's to a job well done! I decided to keep the stump for use as a feature somewhere in the garden.

And since the tree has gone, the Aloe zebrina at the base have doubled in size and are flowering profusely.

Change in a garden is inevitable. I often look back at previous seasons and marvel at the changes that take place from year to year. Some good, some not so good, like a tree dying, but life carries on and something dead makes place for new life.

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