Ana and the Camelthorn

Faidherbia albida, ana tree

“The Anatree colonies mainly the riverbeds and –banks of north-western and central-western Namibia. It is of high and stately growth habit and bears finely pinnate leaves and thorns. In mid-winter it unfolds cream-coloured spike flowers. When its curved, twisted pods fall to the ground in spring, animals come from far and wide to eat these nutritious pods.”*

Uses: Bark strips are used as dental floss by the Topnaar people, who also use a decoction of the bark to treat diarrhoea. The Himba make a tea from the outer rind to treat bladder problems. The pods are prepared as food by removing the seeds, pounding the starch, and then boiling it with milk or water. Seeds are roasted, crushed and used as coffee.

Acacia erioloba, camelthorn

“The Camelthorn is a symbol of our country. In rain-blessed areas with deep soil it may reach stately heights. But the more meagre and inhospitable its habitat, the more gnarled and expressive its appearance becomes. The red heartwood is hard as iron and has also on occasion even been processed into machine bearings. No termite can destroy it. Like all our acacias it has pinnate leaves. Its flowers are arranged in yellow, fragrant, little balls; its pods are grey and velvety pubescent.”*

Uses: A powder made from the inner bark is used as a perfume by the Topnaar people. An infusion of the gum is taken for coughs, colds and tuberculosis and a bark decoction used to treat diarrhoea. A root decoction is also used for treating coughs, and is used for nosebleeds. For lung conditions and coughs, the Herero take a leaf tea, or chew the inner bark. The Kwanyama heat up large pods on embers and apply it to swollen body parts. The seed are roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

*Information taken from Edible, medicinal and poisonous plants in Namibia, by Eberhard von Koenen.

© Marita van Rooyen, 2015