Expedition no. 28: Tree Society visit to Serui Source and Knockmaroon Farms: 07 Dec 1997-

The Tree Society Christmas Social was held at Serui Source Farm

Generate a list of species for Expedition no. 28


The Mashonaland Branch of the Tree Society held its Christmas Social and Bingo Competition at Serui Source Farm, near Norton. Thirty members gathered for tea on the verandah of Jim and Ann Sinclair, who were our hosts for the day.

They live in a delightful old farmhouse dating back to the early 1930's, red farm brick walls, pine floors, thatched roofs and rambling additions, set in a beautiful garden full of tall, old trees. We enjoyed all sorts of Christmas fare, provided by the members, including three different varieties of mince pies, my first of the festive season.

Then off we drove to the next door farm, Knockmaroon, also owned by the Sinclairs, which happens to have been the original home of the Lawrence family when they came to Zimbabwe before the First World War.

We parked under the trees next to a large herd of beautiful cattle, drew our Bingo cards, and set to work under the very able leadership of Phil. You would think that it would be easy for someone to mark off all 10 trees on his card in the course of a morning's walk, especially when you know that all the trees listed had been identified on the farm by the Society on a precious visit. But it was not to be.

We started off at a leisurely pace through the woodland, marvelling at the variety of well-grown trees and shrubs that were present, casually ticking off our finds as we went. Time passed, but no one claimed a full house, or anywhere near one.

We foraged into the edge of the vlei. Still no winner. Ann led us to unusual trees that she remembered. No luck. We walked faster and faster searching the undergrowth in desperation Phil started to take chances with his identification; "I think it’s Euclea natalensis. Does anyone want that one? O.K., that’s what we'll call it!”

Maureen foraged like a terrier around the pack, looking for any species that we might have missed. Finally, we decided that lunch was more important than finding the last tree on somebody's card, so we returned to the cars and divided the prize between the three members who had managed to record nine of the trees that they required.

Besides having an entertaining competition, we also explored some very attractive woodland. The area of the walk was dominated by enormous, spreading Brachystegia spiciformis, some of the largest I have seen in Zimbabwe, and reminiscent of the tall trees we remember from Malawi. Ficus thonningii was also well represented, with some very large specimens doing their strangling act, and we came across a few big Erythrina abyssinica. One of the largest trees of all, growing on an anthill, was reputed to be a Diospyros mespiliformis, which we accepted, with some reservations, until Mark discovered that it had milky latex; that made it Mimusops zeyheri. Beneath the large trees there were areas of parkland, dotted with rocks and fallen trees on which we could sit to recover from our exertions in the warm, humid atmosphere, and other areas of thicket, from which we flushed occasional Francolin.

It was too late in the season for most of the flowers, and too early for most of the fruit, but we all sampled the raisin-like fruit of Carissa edulis, which was growing in profusion, and some of the braver ones tried the Ximenia caffra, more for the experience than for the pleasure; it is not called the sour plum for nothing.
There were a few late flowering Acacia spp., and we were treated to a good demonstration of the differentiation of Acacia karroo and Acacia rehmanniana by their flowers; a specimen of each stood side by side, both with straight thorns and reddish bark. Acacia karroo with yellow flowers and Acacia rehmanniana with white. Dichrostachys cinerea was also in flower, with its pink and yellow Chinese lanterns, while a few late Peltophorum africanum displayed their abundant yellow sprays.

After lunch, accompanied by chocolates provided by our Chairman, we returned to the house and strolled around the garden admiring, and sometimes puzzling over, Ann's collection of indigenous and exotic trees and shrubs. Another very welcome cup of tea, the last of the mince pies, a quick tour of the commercial Protea nursery, and back we went to the city to relax after another enjoyable day in the country. Thank you, Ann and Jim, for your hospitality.

John Lawrence

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-24

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2024). Flora of Zambia: Expedition no. 28: Tree Society visit to Serui Source and Knockmaroon Farms.
https://www.zambiaflora.com/speciesdata/outing-display.php?outing_id=28, retrieved 26 February 2024

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