August 12

Living Under The Leadwood: Silvan Safari Blog


August 12, 2022

At Silvan Safari in Sabi Sand, we're blessed in abundance with leadwood. This tree is one of Southern Africa's most majestic, beautiful, iconic tree species – the mightiest of the Bushwillow family, Combretum imberbe. Substantial giants, by any measure in riparian margins, favoured boughs of eagle and leopard alike, reliable rubbing post of the elephant, buffalo and rhino – it's hard to imagine many other trees which make more of an impression on the landscape and their subjects. Here's why they're so special and one of the key inspirations behind Silvan Safari.


Leadwood trees are an imposing feature of the bush in the northern Sabi Sand

Spirit of the Trees

True to Silvan Safari's name ("spirit of the trees"), breathtakingly beautiful leadwood trees line the river banks of the magnificent Manyeleti, towering over everything else in sight.


The leadwood's distinctive silvery green leaves and copper-hued seeds, Image Credit: Brad Mitchell

And even the largest beasts, the African elephant, are dwarfed in comparison by their custodial presence. So imposing are these trees that their ancient roots seemingly bind the world together, physically, temporally and spiritually. Furthermore, their mighty tangle boughs and branches reach high up into the sky!

Learning from Leadwoods

Oh, what a wise man could learn if he could only just listen or somehow communicate with these aeon-defying entities. These trees witness countless events, generation upon generation, of our fleeting and insignificant lifetimes. So, who are we to say they are not wise, pure, and even more conscious than ourselves? Therefore, they undoubtedly are worthy of great admiration.


The leadwood tree is a favourite among leopards

Souls of Namibian Ancestors

Indeed in northern Namibia, upon their passing, tribes religiously pay respect to leadwood trees as they believe these trees house and embody the souls of their ancestors. And with carbon placing some specimens at 1500 years old, it's barely surprising they command such respect in as harsh an environment as Namibia. 

Furthermore, this cathedral Combretum also provides a priceless lifeline for the Bushman in the form of a highly favoured edible gum.


The gnarled branches of leadwoods reach out into the sky

The Leadwood as Nature's Pharmacy 

The Leadwood's high lime content ash is also useful to various rural African cultures. They use it as a form of toothpaste and whitewash substitute when mixed with milk and applied to rural dwellings (typically either constructed from clay bricks such as those obtainable from termite mounds or grass mixed with cow dung).

Moreover, in locations remote from health care, the leaves can be burnt and the smoke inhaled to relieve chest complaints, colds and flu.

Functional Leadwoods 


The bark of the leadwood tree makes it easy to identify

In the past, leadwood trees were highly prized as durable and resistant timber for important applications. For example, railway sleepers, mine prop shafts, plough implements and high-quality firewood. Unfortunately, this, alongside the tree's slow generation time, led to leadwood being over-utilised. As a result, the leadwood species is now highly protected in legislation.

Blessedly, at Silvan Safari, we continue alongside other antelope, primates, birds, reptiles and insects to appreciate the leadwood the way it should be – adorning our river banks, termite mounds and dwarfing elephants ever passing by…

Our Source of Inspiration 

In fact, our admiration for leadwood extends further than appreciating its place in nature. This tree is the inspiration behind the Leadwood Family Suite, where subtle tributes to it can be found throughout. From the soothing soft blues and grey tones that mimic the characteristic bark to the delicately embroidered seeds that adorn the décor, the very spirit of the leadwood lives in this suite.


Our leadwood suite takes inspiration from this giant of the Sabi Sand.

Come See Our Leadwood Trees at Silvan Safari

Silvan Safari's Leadwood Suite

The inviting leadwood suite

We invite you to admire our mesmerising leadwoods at Silvan Safari. Their gentle yet imposing presence will inspire you just as it has so many others. 

Contact Rhino Africa's Travel Experts, and let's start planning your dream African safari today! 

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Jamie Sangster

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