2011 is the International Year of Forests.  Forests play a direct role in the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people worldwide. They are the habitat for millions of species, some of which we don’t even know exist.  Forests play a critical role in mitigating the effects of Climate Change. In spite of all of this deforestation continues at a rate of 50,000 square miles per year.

A good friend sent me this poem –  the Tree Blessing and to celebrate January 2011 in the Year of Forests, I am passing it on to you.

Trees in Kirstenbosch. Photo Viv von der HeydenThe Tree Blessing

Soak up the sun

Affirm life’s magic

Be graceful in the wind

Stand tall after a storm

Feel refreshed after it rains

Grow strong without notice

Be prepared for each season

Provide shelter to strangers

Hang tough through a cold spell

Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring

Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky

Be still long enough to

Hear your own leaves rustling


Author unknown


Do you have stories and photographs of  iconic trees in the Scenic South.  Please share them with us and help to grow an appreciation for trees. 

The South Africa Tree of the Year for 2011 is Pappea capensis, the Jacket Plum.   It is a long-lived, hardy, evergreen, small to medium tree with a height of 2-8 m.  The jacket plum is related to the litchi and is a natural addition for the bird or wildlife garden.  It’s red fruit is a tasty treat for humans and a firm favourite with birds and animals. A fine oil is extracted from the seeds.  It is easily cultivated, although slow-growing in colder climates.

Pappea capensis is not indigenous to the Western Cape but is widespread in southern Africa from the Northern Cape through the drier Karoo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, to the northern provinces, as well as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and northwards into eastern and southern tropical Africa.  It naturally occurs in bushveld, riverine thicket, wooded grassland and rocky outcrops in grassland as well as scrub veld and is often found on termite mounds. Due to its wide distribution range it is well suited to cultivation in a wide variety of climatic conditions.  To read more and for photos go to