Buffalo Thorn Tree

Buffalo Thorn

Ziziphus Mucronata

Also known as the “Wag-‘n-bietjie” tree, the Buffalo Thorn is a tree that can grow to 17m tall. You can find it under nearly all ecological conditions.

A Bit More About The Buffalo Thorn

Ziziphus mucronata grows in areas dominated by thorny vegetation in both temperate and tropical climates. You can also find it in a wide range of habitats such as woodlands, open scrubland, on rocky koppies, open grasslands, on a variety of soils along streams, nutrient-rich valley bottoms and forest margins. It reaches its largest size on the margins of scrub forest and on deep, alluvial soils near water. There are those who say that its presence indicates the presence of underground water.

Humans And The Buffalo Thorn

The Buffalo Thorn Tree is widely used for magical and medicinal purposes because of the spines or thorns, which are paired; One is hooked, and the other is straight. According to Nguni legend, the thorns of the Ziziphus tell us something about ourselves – that we must look ahead to the future (straight thorns) but we must never forget where we have come from (hooked thorns).

Fruit And Leaves For Our Fauna

The Buffalo Thorn is a valuable fodder tree. It plays an important role ecologically. It flowers from October to April, and fruits from February to August. This is because the leaves and fruit are sought after by many birds species, wild animals, and domestic stock. Giraffes, in particular, are known to be fond of the leaves of this tree. You can often find Impalas feeding on the dead leaves lying under the tree. However, not only the larger animals benefit. The insects are happy with this tree as well because of the green to yellow flowers. These flowers produce abundant nectar and often yield a good honey.

The fruit of the Ziziphus are not very tasty for us humans. However, a type of beer can be made from them. The leaves are edible. They can be cooked into spinach, and the seeds can be roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee.

Sources: SANBI and Wikipedia

Images: Wikimedia, By JMK – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,