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A Guide to the Living Tree Orchid Essences

1% for Orchid Conservation Campaign

African Tree Essences

The Milkwood Sideroxylon inerme: full information page


milkwood tree and boy

Milkwoods are hardy, slow-growing trees with deep-green, leathery leaves and rough grayish-brown bark. Rarely are they found with a straight trunk. Instead their gnarled, sprawling branches create sheltering thickets that are home to a variety of wild life. By creating dense, low-crowing stands, milkwoods are one of the few trees able to withstand the salt-laden winds that batter South Africa�s southern coastline. Although also occurring inland, milkwoods are found mainly along the coast from the Cape Peninsula to northern Zululand. In days gone by, the site of a farmyard was often determined by the presence of a milkwood. Their thick, umbrella-shaped crowns created a perfect �roof� for the meat chests that pre-dated refrigerators.

  milkwood tree


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Milkwood - Tree of Wholeness

£14.95 20ml

For standing in your own power. Brings a sense of belonging and connectedness. A nuturing and supportive essence that balances feelings of insecurity and a lack of grounding. For nightmares and negative states of mind.

Balances: Alienation, Convalescence, Exhaustion, Hopelessness, Loneliness, Negativity, Negative Peer Pressure

milkwood with flowers

The delicate, pale-golden flowers of the milkwood are borne in clusters along the ends of the branches and they have an unusual sour-smell. The flowers are followed by juicy, dark magenta-coloured fruit that are enjoyed by birds and baboons. Once peeled of their outer skin, they have a grape-like taste. The milky latex, which gives the tree its common name, makes the leaves and the bark unpalatable to grazing animals. A superficial scratch to the bark reveals a bright red under surface � the colour of fresh blood. The wood is very hard, heavy and strong. In the past, it was used for ship building, bridges, mills and ploughs. It is very durable even when wet and it shrinks little with drying.

milkwood with berries

Traditionally the milkwood has a number of medicinal uses: the roots have been used to aid the healing of fractured bones and an infusion of the bark is said to dispel nightmares.

At Platbos there is a great forest elder that is estimated to be over 1000 years of age. There are four milkwood trees in South Africa that have been awarded National Monument status and these are their stories:

The Post Office Tree of Mossel Bay

In 1500 a letter describing the unfortunate drowning at sea of Bartholomew Diaz, the famous explorer, was placed in a shoe by Portuguese sailors and tied to this milkwood tree. It was found over a year later by the man to whom it was addressed, Commander Joao Nova.

The Treaty Tree, Woodstock, Cape Town

It was here, in 1806 that the commander of local defenses formally handed over the Cape to the British following the Battle of Blaauwberg.

The Fingo Milkwood Tree, near Peddie, Eastern Cape

The Fingo people pledged their loyalty to God and the British king under this tree in 1835.

Milkwood at Rhenosterfontein Farm, near Bredasdorp

This milkwood has been awarded National Monument status in recognition of its size and age: the trunk has a girth of over 3 meters and the crown a spread of over 20 meters.

Milkwoods are protected in South African and may not be cut without a permit.

milkwood with bird


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