Nature is geared for spring and the calendar says it’s time - News - Gondwana Collection

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Nature is geared for spring and the calendar says it’s time

Avatar of inke inke - 14. September 2018 - Environment, Weather

The knob thorn has longish cream-coloured flowers and is one of the first acacias to bloom after winter. This species of tree occurs only in the Zambezi Region and the northern parts of the Kavango regions.

Dirk Heinrich

In the southern hemisphere September 1st is seen as the beginning of spring. According to the calendar, winter is over by then but nature does not stick to prescribed dates. The first Black thorns (Acacia mellifera) were already in bloom at the end of August, for example east of Rehoboth, and heralded spring in some areas while in other places the thorny branches did not even show any buds. Last weekend, when a cold front moved north from the Cape and into Namibia, winter was back in full force in large parts of the country with temperatures dropping below zero in some places. The delicate white catkins of Black thorn acacias survived the cold spell. 

The Black thorn acacia is commonly seen all over Namibia, except for the Namib Desert and larger areas in the central north, the Kavango regions and the Zambezi Region. It is one of the first acacia species to start flowering at the end of winter. On commercial farms they have become a pest by encroaching on grassland. Nevertheless, their catkins are a welcome sight at the start of spring.

In the northeast of the country spring also announced itself with numerous flowers already last month. At the Zambezi River the monkey thorn (Acacia galpinii) and the African mangosteen (Garcinia livingstonei) were in bloom, at the Kwando the knob thorn (Acacia nigrescens) and the water berry (Syzygium cordatum). Wherever flowers enhance the barren winter landscape with colour, bees are busily gathering nectar and quite a few of us are now looking forward to the acacia honey which should be available soon. Even some camel thorn trees (Acacia erioloba) are sporting the first yellow catkins, which will shortly be followed by the similar looking yellow flowers of the Sweet thorn (Acacia karroo).

Botanist Herta Kolberg explains that rising temperatures and soil moisture stimulate trees and shrubs to bloom and come out of the dormant winter state. That is the reason why in some areas plants are already covered in flowers while the same species a few kilometres away, where rainfall was less, does not even show buds.  

But nature is awakening. Spring is here! 

Just like the female flowers of the African mangosteen (Garcinia livingstonei), the male flowers currently attract countless bees. When you stand next to an African mangosteen at this time of the year it seems as if the whole tree is continuously humming all day. Later the tree bears edible berries which measure 25 to 30 mm. This species, too, is found only in the north-eastern parts of Namibia.
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