African ecosystems, both wild and inhabited, are full of species that we humans find very useful. In addition to fruit trees and nut trees, we have botanical and flowering trees that provide materials for tools, furniture, housing and medicine.
Many of the trees that are found in our gardens and cities today can be used for all kinds of things, from insect repellent to green powder for your morning smoothie!
It gives me great joy to recognize a tree — to know its name and species, where it comes from, what is creates that is useful and good for us and the wider ecosystem. Many African trees that have been planted around villages and communities generations ago are no longer around, and the ones that are need protecting. Trees carry old wisdom and old medicine, offering healing that we still need today.
A word about African trees: indigenous is important, but it isn’t everything. Many tree-lovers in Africa can become a bit fanatical about growing only indigenous trees. This is because the birds, insects and wildlife of your areas are unique suited to the trees naturally found in your habitat. They’ve enjoyed and eaten them for ages, so when you pull up acacias to plan new flowering jacarandas in the garden, to the other creatures, it comes as a bit of a shock.
Indigenous trees are an essential cornerstone of biodiversity, but they should be complemented with useful trees and bushes that have already been introduced to or can easily acclimatize to the environment.
Along the same line, we feel that monocropping, where companies or people plant single-species forests, is also not ideal. We prefer forests where tree species work with other plants and bushes in guilds, each one filling a valuable place in a thriving ecosystem. Harvesting in this manner may require more labor, but we see this as a good thing.
As you explore African trees, please do your part to speak up about your love for them, and do what you can to protect them. Old trees are the guardians of our communities, neighborhoods and natural places, and now more than ever, they need our support.
Explore our beloved trees, and write to us about your own favorite African tree (email@example.com).