100 Bushveld Trees, by Megan Emmett Parker
100 Bushveld Trees by Megan Emmett Parker helps unlocking the complicated world of South African trees.
I have a treasured snapshot taken years ago by a guiding student of mine while we were exploring the Makuleke region, the most northerly and lovely section of Kruger. It freezes in time one of those quintessential bush moments, and every time I look at the picture, I am able to relive that particular encounter. Against a soft, summery, emerald-green landscape, I am perched atop a large termite mound, binoculars fixed on a herd of lazy, black buffalo in the middle-distance, my back pressed Huckleberry Finn-style up against the stumpy, mottled trunk of a jacket plum. I, along with a small group of trailists, had sat hidden away in the shade and security of that little leafy island on the flood plain for at least an hour after happening upon the behemoths. We were on the way back to camp after an early walk in the fever tree forest and the temperatures were already climbing into the low 40s as they do by mid-morning in summer. The great bellowing beasts were totally unaware of our presence upon the mound and under the canopy of the tree, so we sat and watched them interacting undisturbed, the best kind of wildlife sighting. The star of this story, it turns out, is actually the half-obscured tree in the picture as, had it not been for the tree, we could not have stood there in the escalating heat for very long, nor could we have maintained our privacy from their line of sight. The sighting would have been fleeting and unmemorable. And this simple experience is the epitome of what I love about trees. They are the essence of both the scenery and the ecology of an area, and so many of my best bush memories are inextricably linked to them. Trees add an extra dimension to one's personal experience of any natural place and, if you ask me, understanding something about trees is key to getting the most out of one's interpretative encounter with the bush. Then there is the appeal of the finer detail: the edging of a leaf, the interesting textures of bark, the myriad colours of flowers, fruit or even minute scales and hairs dotted along a leaf-vein, the aromatic scent of a crushed sample, the sting of a mishandled spine, and shapes and forms of canopies so varied and different between species and even between individual plants. Trees are intriguing, they are challenging, and they are breathtaking. Starting out, trees are never a budding conservationist's first passion but, as one learns more about them along the journey of becoming a naturalist, curiosity and subsequently fascination burgeons. But learning trees is hard and tree books are not always easy to use because the botanical jargon is so off-putting. While there is a place for technical terminology, I have found it is not crucial to the initial learning process, and keeping it simple has made learning trees fun for me and, I dare say, those I've been privileged to teach. Through this book, I wanted to make trees accessible to anyone who'd like to know more about them, to unlock the world of trees, so to speak, for any bush or plant enthusiast who has not yet been able to wade past complicated identification guides. The book uses simple laymen's descriptions and close-up photos of the individual components that identify a tree, and is structured in a way that makes a complex botanical key unnecessary; here, the chapters serve as keys. [...]
This is an excerpt from 100 Bushveld Trees, by Megan Emmett Parker.
Title: 100 Bushveld Trees
Author: Megan Emmett Parker
Photographer: Shem Compion
Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa
Imprint: Struik Nature
Cape Town, South Africa 2019
ISBN 9781775846550 / ISBN 978-1-77-584655-0
Softcover, 18 x 23 cm, 224 pages, throughout colour photos
Emmett Parker, Megan im Namibiana-Buchangebot
100 Bushveld Trees
100 Bushveld Trees introduces to memorable trees found across the northern and eastern regions of South Africa, encompassing both the Highveld and the Lowveld.
Nature Unpacked: The traveller's ultimate bush guide to Southern Africa
Nature Unpacked is the ultimate travelling companion for those visiting the southern African bush.
Game Ranger in Your Backpack: All-in-one interpretative guide to the Lowveld
Game Ranger in Your Backpack is intended to substitute the presence of a personal guide during visits to the Lowveld region of South Africa.