Jakkalsbessie/Jackal Berry



Hierdie fotos is almal geneem van 'n enkele, lieflike jakkalsbessieboom in 'n natuurreservaat aangrensend aan die Krugerwildtuin. Hy groei langs die Olifantsrivier - in der waarheid nogal 'n entjie van die rivier af, maar waar daar nog heelwat ondergrondse water beskikbaar moet wees. Dit is die grootste jakkalsbessie wat ek nog gesien het! Op 'n paar fotos effens verder ondertoe staan ek by die stam, ter wille van skaal. Rondom hom was daar heelwat ander bome wat ook nogal glad nie te klein was nie, maar soos julle kan sien, troon hy bo hulle almal uit.

Jakkalsbessies, Diospyros mespiliformis, is wyverspreid deur Afrika - van EthiopiŽ in die noorde tot Swaziland in die suide. Hulle verkies savanne- of boomveldstreke, waar hulle gewoonlik langs riviere groei, of soms op termiethope. Termiethope kan nuttig wees vir bome: in swaar grond is die tonnels van die termiete 'n bron van lug; droŽ streke 'n bron van vog; verder reguleer termiete die temperatuur binne hulle neste so goed dat dit plante teen oormatige koue sowel as hitte kan beskerm. Die bome stuur hulle wortels tot diep binne in die termietneste sonder om die insekte veel te steur. Hierdie bome se hout is redelik goed bestand teen termietaanvalle - let egter daarop dat termiete in elk geval nie lewende hout sal aanval nie.

Hierdie boomsoort behoort aan die Ebenaceae, die ebbeboomfamilie. Baie bome in hierdie familie kom in tropiese woude voor, en is gesog ter wille van hulle hout. In Suid-Afrika is die jakkalsbessie die enigste groot boomspesie in die familie - die res is aangepas by koue en/of droŽ toestande en is meestal klein en struikagtig, soos die ghwarries (Euclea spesies), die bloubos (Diospyros lycioides) en die kritikom (D. austro-africana). Verder noord, veral in Zimbabwe, kry 'n mens 'n paar ander groot Diospyros-spesies. Die genusnaam, Diospyros, beteken 'peer van die gode' en verwys na die smaaklike vrugte van sommige lede van die genus - vernaam die tamatiepruime (ook bekend as dadelpruime), D. virginiana van Amerika en D.kaki van Japan. Die jakkalsbessie se spesienaam - mespiliformis - beteken 'half-koeŽlvormig' en verwys ook na die vrugte. Sy algemene naam het hy gekry deurdat jakkalse soms sy bessies eet ... die sade word in hulle mis gekry.

These photos were all taken of a single, lovely jackal berry tree in a nature reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park. It grows next to the Olifants river - in fact a bit of a distance away from the river, but where there must still be plenty of subsurface water available. It is the biggest jackal berry I have ever seen! On a few photos further down I stand next to the trunk, for the sake of scale. Around it there were plenty of other trees that were also not too small, but as you can see, it towers above all the rest of them.

Jackal berries, Diospyros mespiliformis, are distributed widely throughout Africa - from Ethiopia in the north to Swaziland in the south. They prefer savannah- or woodland regions, where they usually grow along rivers, or sometimes on termite hills. Termite hills can be useful for trees: in heavy soil the termite tunnels serve as a source of air, and in dry regions a source of moisture; the termites also regulate the temperature in their nests so well that it can protect plants against excessive cold as well as heat. The trees send their roots deep into the termite nests without disturbing the insects. The wood of these trees is fairly resistant against termite attacks - note though that termites will at any rate not attack living wood.

This tree species belongs to the Ebenaceae, the ebony family. Many trees in this family occur in tropical forests, and are sought after for the sake of their wood. In South Africa the jackal berry is the only big tree species in the family - the rest are adapted to cold and/or dry conditions and are mostly small and shrubby, for instance the guarris (Euclea species), the bluebush (Diospyros lycioides) and the fire-sticks (D. austro-africana). Further north, especially in Zimbabwe, one finds a few other big Diospyros-species. The genus name, Diospyros, means 'divine pear' and refers to the tasty fruit of some members of the genus - notably the persimmons, Diospyros virginiana of America and D. kaki of Japan. The jackal berry's species name - mespiliformis - means 'half-bullet shaped' and also refers to the fruit. It got its common name because of jackals eating the berries ... the seeds are found in their dung.


Voorkoms/Appearance


Jakkalsbessies word lekker groot - hulle kan 'n hoogte van vyf-en-twintig meter (80 voet) bereik, met 'n stamomtrek van meer as vyf meter (16 voet). Die een was ons hier afgeneem het, was naby aan die maksimumgrootte, alhoewel daar sekerlik in die res van Afrika nog 'n hele paar groteres moet wees. Hulle groei gewoonlik hoog en regop. Daarbenewens het hulle ook digte, spreidende, lowerryke, donkergroen krone, en soos julle sien kan die stam lekker dik en stewig word. Gewoonlik begin hulle eerste dik takke eers hoog bo die grond sywaarts uitsprei.

Jakkalsbessies kan redelik maklik herken word aan hulle vorm: reguit stam, diep donkergroen blarekroon. Die bas is donkergryserig en grof en skilfer af in klein blokkies. Daar is dikwels diep groewe en riwwe al met die stam langs - hoe ouer, groter en swaarder die boom, hoe prominenter die riwwe - hulle stut en versterk die stam. Die blare is enkelvoudig, gaafrandig of met matig golwende of kartelende rande, en langwerpig-ellipties, tot 14 cm lank (5.5 duim) en 3 cm breed (ongeveer 1 duim). Hulle is donkerder groen and die bokant as aan die onderkant, en volgroeide blare het 'n gladde, glansende voorkoms. Jong blaartjies is soms met donshaartjies bedek. Jong bome is immergroen. In die vroeŽ lente verkleur die blare van ou bome donkergeel en word afgewerp; die nuwe jong blaartjies is dikwels pienkerig, oranje of rooierig - baie aantreklik wanneer hulle onmiddelik daarna in groot hoeveelhede verskyn.

Wanneer jakkalsbessies vrugte dra, is hulle die maklikste om te herken. Die vruggies is eiervormig tot amper sferies, ongeveer 25 mm (een duim) in deursnee, en die vyf kelkblare van die blomme bly aan die basis van die vruggie kleef, maar hulle punte krul terugwaarts. Die vruggie het gewoonlik ook 'n lang, dun borselhaarpunt as oorblyfsel van die styl van die vrugbeginsel. Die vruggies word voorafgegaan deur die witterige, onopvallende maar geurige blommetjies. Jakkalsbessies se geslagte kom as afsonderlike bome voor. Die vroulike blomme en die vrugte word dus net aan vroulike bome gevind. Die vrugte word baie stadig ryp - hulle kan tot 'n jaar lank aan die boom bly. Hulle verkleur eers geel en dan pers ... 'n mens sien egter baie selde enige pers bessies omdat voŽls hulle gewoonlik almal eet voordat hulle sů ryp kan word!

Jackal berries grow quite large - they can reach a height of twenty-five meters (80 ft.), with a trunk girth of over five meters (16 ft.). The one we photographed here was near the maximum size, though there certainly must be a few bigger ones elsewhere in Africa. They usually grow high and upright. Furthermore they have dense, spreading, leafy, deep green crowns, and as you can see the trunk can become quite thick and sturdy. Usually their first thick branches only start to spread out sideways high above the ground.

Jackal berries can be fairly easily recognised by their shape: straight trunk, deep dark green leafy crowns. The bark is dark grey, rough, and flakes off in small blocks. There are usually deep furrows and ridges along the trunk - the older, bigger and heavier the tree, the more prominent the ridges - they buttress and strengthen the trunk. The leaves are single, entire or with mildly wavy margins, and elongated-elliptic, up to 14 cm long (5.5") and 3 cm broad (about 1"). They are darker green above than below, and full grown leaves have a smooth, glossy appearance. Young leaves are sometimes covered with downy hairs. Young trees are evergreen. In early Spring the leaves of old trees colour dark yellow and are shed; the new young leaves are often pinkish, orange or reddish - very showy when they appear, immediately afterwards, in large amounts.

When Jackal berries bear fruit they are easiest to recognise. The fruit are ovate to almost spherical, about 25 mm (one inch) in diameter, and the five sepals of the calyx of the flowers remain clinging to the basis of the fruit, but their tips curl backwards. The fruit usually has a long, thing, brush-hair tip as remnant of the style of the ovary. The fruits are preceded by whitish, inconspicuous but fragrant flowers. The genders of jackal berries exist as separate tres. The female flowers and fruit are therefore only found on female trees. The fruit ripen very slowly - they can remain on the tree for up to a year. They colour first yellow and then purple ... one very rarely sees any purple berries though because birds usually eat them all before they can get that ripe!


Waarde/Value


Soos diť van ander ebbebome, is hulle hout aantreklik, hard, sterk, redelik swaar, en duursaam. Dit is amper heeltemal bestand teen termiete. Die kernhout wissel van 'n ligte, rooierige bruin tot donkerbruin tot amper swart. Dit het 'n fyn grein en is geskik vir vloere en hoŽ-gehalte meubels - alhoewel die oppervlak geneig is om grof te word wanneer 'n mens dit skaaf. Afrikane gebruik dit tradisioneel om uithol-kanos mee te maak, veral in NamibiŽ en Botswana. In sommige streke maak die mense stampblokke en stampers van die hout, asook kleiner items soos meshewwe, drinkbekers, lepels en snuifdosies. Takkies word gebruik om tandeborsels mee te maak.

Dit is veral die vrugte wat nuttig is. Afrikane is gewoonlik baie lief vir hulle, en laat derhalwe die bome met rus in hulle landerye. Die vruggies is soet en kan vars geŽet of ingelÍ en gebÍre word - of gedroog en fyngemaal word as meel, dikwels met mieliemeel gemeng. Verder kan 'n mens ook bier of brandewyn daarvan brou. Die sade kan ook afgedop en geŽet word - hulle het 'n neuterige smaak en geur.

In die natuur is daar ook baie ander wesens wat die jakkalsbessie se vrugte geniet: benewens jakkalse ook koedoes, njalas, rooibokke, klipspringers, vlakvarke, bobbejane, ape, papegaaiduiwe, papegaaie, neushoringvoŽls, loeries en tiptolle. Die blare is nie so gewild nie, maar word tog deur olifante, kameelperde, swartrenosters, buffels, elande en koedoes geŽet. Die aanskoulike bosvelddubbelstertskoenlapper, Charaxes achaemenes achaemenes, se larwes vreet die blare van diť boom.

Verder het die jakkalsbessie vele tradisionele medisinale gebruike. Die vrugte, blare, bas en wortels bevat tannien - 'n stof wat weefsel laat saamtrek en bloed help stelp. Die boom bevat ook stowwe met antibiotiese eienskappe. Basuittreksel en fyngedrukte jong lote word op wonde en kneusplekke gesmeer om genesing te bevorder. 'n Aftreksel van die wortels word gedrink om inwendige parasiete soos ringwurm te bekamp en mense te help herstel van disenterie en koors. Soms word stukkies bas bokant brandende kole op 'n rooster geplaas en mense wat van hoesbuie of sinusprobleme lei asem die stoom wat van hulle afkom in - klaarblyklik help dit.

Like that of other ebony trees, their wood is attractive, hard, strong, fairly heavy, and durable. It is almost totally resistant against termites. The heartwood varies from light, reddish brown to dark brown to almost black. It is fine-grained and suitable for floors and high quality furniture - although the surface tends to become rough when planed. Africans traditionally use it to make dugout canoes from, especially in Namibia and Botswana. In some regions people make stamping blocks and pestles from the wood, as well as smaller items like knife handles, cups, spoons and snuff boxes. Twigs are used to make toothbrushes.

The fruits are especially useful. Africans usually enjoy them a lot, and therefore leave the trees standing in their lands. They are sweet and can be eaten fresh, or preserved and stored - or also dried and ground into flour, often mixed with maize flour. One can brew beer and brandy from them also. The seeds can be shelled and eaten - they have a nutty taste and flavour.

In nature many other creatures enjoy the fruit of the jackal berry: apart from jackals also kukus, nyalas, impalas, klipspringers, warthogs, baboons, monkeys, green pigeons, parrots, hornbills, louries and bulbuls. The leaves are not as popular, but are on occasion eaten by elephants, black rhinos, giraffes, buffaloes, and kudus. The larvae of the handsome bushveld emperor butterfly, Charaxes achaemenes achaemenes, feed on the leaves of this tree.

Additionally the jackal berry has many tradiononal medicinal uses. The fruit, leaves, bark and roots contain tannin - an astringent substance that helps stop bleeding. The tree also contains substances with antibiotic properties. Bark extracts and crushed young shoots are applied to wounds and bruises to promote healing. A decoction of the roots is ingested to fight internal parasites such as ringworm and to help people recover from dysentery and fever. Sometimes pieces of bark are placed on a grid above burning coals and people who suffer from coughing fits or sinus problems inhale the steam coming from it, which supposedly helps.


Beskerming en Bevordering/Protection and Propagation


Jakkalsbessies loop nie gevaar om uit te sterf nie, maar hulle is ook nie besonder algemeen nie. In Suid Afrika moet mense spesiale toestemming verkry om hulle te mag afkap. Omdat hierdie boom so nuttig vir mens en dier is, kan hulle gerus bevorder word in die natuurlike gebiede waar hulle aard. Dit sal 'n goeie idee wees om hulle in wildreservate en op wildplase langs riviere en veral nuutgeboude damme te plant. Hulle is uiters goeie skadubome vir ruskampe of plaastuine. Mense kan hulle ook in dorpstuine plant; verkieslik groot tuine sodat die bome tot hulle reg sal kan kom. Daar sal hulle 'n magdom voŽls en diere na die tuin toe lok. Hulle wortelstelsels is nie aggressief nie en hulle kan dus redelik naby bouwerk geplant word. Jakkalsbessies sal goed aard regdeur die warmer savannestreke van Afrika. Moet hulle egter nie in enige ander gebiede probeer vestig nie, aangesien hulle nie by ander ekologieŽ sal inpas nie en inderdaad probleme mag veroorsaak soos wat baie plante wat van ander streke na Suid Afrika gebring is, nou hier probleme veroorsaak deur die ekologiese balans te ontwrig.

Dit is nie moeilik om jakkalsbessies self te kweek nie. Hulle dra massas vrugte oor lang tydperke, en die sade daarbinne is groot en hard. Onder enige jakkalsbessieboom sal daar gewoonlik baie vrugte lÍ asook baie saad - dikwels die saad van vrugte wat reeds deur die wildlewe geŽet is. Daar is ook organisasies wat saad aan mense beskikbaar stel in Suid Afrika - ek wil hulle nie hier adverteer nie maar enigeen wat plaaslik belangstel kan met 'n bietjie soekwerk uitvind wie hulle is. Die saad bly lank lewensvatbaar en ontkiem sonder veel moeite - hulle kan geskuur of in water geweek word om die proses te versnel. Plant hulle daarna in goed-dreinerende grond in sakkies of saailingkassies, sit hulle op 'n warm plek en hou hulle klam. Plant die boompies in indiwiduele sakkies uit sodra hulle drie blaartjies het - nie later nie - en wees versigtig om nie die lang penworteltjies te beskadig nie. Hulle kan vir 'n jaar of drie in die sakkies groei voordat hulle in die tuin uitgeplant hoef te word. Hulle verkies warm gebiede 'n matige reŽnval, gereelde natmaak en/of 'n hoŽ watertafel in droŽ streke, diep grond en 'n beskutte posisie in kouer streke. Alhoewel hulle baie ligte ryp kan hanteer, groei hulle vinniger waar dit warmer is. Hulle kan ook 'n gemiddelde winterdroogte - hier by ons sowat ses maande - sonder probleme hanteer. Dit duur gewoonlik 'n rukkie nadat hulle uitgeplant is voordat hulle goed begin groei. Die groeitempo is matig maar dit sal inderdaad baie lank neem voordat 'n tuinboom so groot en indrukwekkend is soos die mooiste eksemplare in die natuur!

Jackal berries are not in danger of becoming extinct, but they are not very common either. In South Africa people need special permission to cut them down. Because this tree is so useful to people and animals, they should very well be propagated in the natural areas where they occur. In nature reserves and on game farms t would be a good idea to plant them along rivers and, especially, newly constructed dams. They are excellent shade trees for rest camps or farm gardens. People can also plant them in town gardens; preferably big gardens to do them justice. There they will attract a plethora of birds and animals. Their roots systems are not aggressive and they can therefore be planted close to constructions. Jackal berries will thrive throughout the warmer savannah regions of Africa. Never try to establish them in any other regions, though, because they will not fit into different ecologies and may indeed cause problems, as many other plants who were brought to South Africa from other areas now cause problems by disrupting the ecological balance.

It is not difficult to cultivate jackal berries. They bear masses of fruit over long periods, and the seeds within are big and hard. Under any jackal berry tree there will normally be lots of fruit and seed - often the seed of fruit that has already been eaten by wildlife. There are also organisations that will supply people with seed in South Africa - I don't want to advertise them here but anyone locally who's interested can find out who they are with a bit of searching. The seed remains viable for long and germinate without much difficulty - they can be scoured or soaked in water to speed up the process. Plant them in well-drained ground in bags or seedling trays, put in a warm place and keep moist. Plant them out in individual bags as soon as they have three leaves - no later - and be careful not to hurt the long taproots. They can grow for a year or three in the bags before they need to be planted out into the garden. They prefer warm areas, a moderate rainfall, regular watering and/or a high water table in dry regions, deep soil and a sheltered position in cold regions. Although they can tolerate very light frost they grow quicker where it is warmer. They can also handle an average winter drought - over here about six months - without problems. It usually takes a while after being planted out before they start growing well. The tempo of growth is moderate but it will indeed take very long before a garden tree is as big and impressive as the finest specimens in nature!


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Skakels/Links

Inheemse Veeldoelige Bome van TanzaniŽ/Indigenous Multipurpose Trees of Tanzania

Kyk gerus na die res van hierdie webwerf... dit is 'n uiters belowende projek in TanzaniŽ om die nuttige eienskappe van inheemse bome op skrif te stel, asook die maniere waarop bome bestuur en bevorder kan word.

Please look at the rest of this website ... it is a very promising project in Tanzania to document the useful properties of indigenous trees, as well as the methods to manage and propagate them.

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