Ziziphus rivularis – False Buffalo thorn – Rivierblinkblaar- Mulalantsa

While similar in appearance to the buffalo thorn, Ziziphus rivularis differs as a thornless upright tree with deep green foliage. Its evergreen to semi-deciduous nature varies with environmental factors. It grows rapidly reaching mature heights of up to 7 meters. Widely distributed in South Africa, it thrives in bushveld, along water bodies, and among rocks in Limpopo, Kwa Zulu Natal, and Mpumalanga.

This tree is characterized by glossy, simple leaves arranged alternately and spirally, they start hairy but become smoother as the tree matures. The smooth whitish bark gradually turns grey over time. In November, the False Buffalo thorn blooms inconspicuous yellow flowers followed by shiny yellow fruits, attracting diverse bird species.

The fruits of Ziziphus species serve as a vital food source for birds. After consuming the entire fruit, birds vomit the seeds intact, facilitating their dispersal under optimal conditions for germination. This process of seed dispersal, known as ornithochory, involves birds ingesting and spreading seeds.

Although tolerant to frost within limits, Z. rivularis thrives best in warm climates, making it a valuable addition to wildlife-friendly gardens, especially for bird enthusiasts. This tree is an excellent windbreaker, it prefers full sunlight and is low-maintenance, needing only moderate watering. It is a great choice for gardens and is particularly well-suited for smaller spaces.

Source: The Sun Trees Team

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