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Mopane Tree

Trees of Namibia

The Mopane tree (Colophospermum mopane) or Omusati in the local Oshiwambo language, dominates the eastern reaches of the Kaokoveld as well as the sandveld as far as the Etosha Pan. It is so widespread in the north-west of Namibia that a region in Owambo is named after it. One of the principal trees in the southern tropics of Africa, it forms dense thickets and even pure stands and it is also the dominant vegetation (80%) in many parts of Etosha National Park. It is the soil structure that determines whether mopane grow into fully-fledged trees or remain as multi-stemmed shrubs. They can be identified by their 'butterfly-shaped' leaves that are shiny rust to coppery in colour when they first emerge, and they turn green later. The leaves fold closely together at midday, (who needs a watch or the sun to tell the time!) giving less shade, but as this action prevents excessive transpiration, it minimizes water loss. Giraffe, rhino and elephant are particularly partial to the highly nutritious leaves, with elephant fond of the bark and roots as a main course.

Mopane's generic name Colophospermum, means 'oily seed' and it refers to the sticky, kidney-shaped, flat brown seeds. When crushed, both seeds and leaves smell strongly of turpentine. All parts of the mopane are resinous, and burn even when green. In the rainy season, mopane trees and shrubs house huge numbers of hairless fat caterpillars, which are the larvae of the emperor moth. They are more commonly known as mopane worms, (which feed on the leaves) and are eaten locally, roasted or dried, as a protein supplement. They are considered to be a delicacy by indigenous people and only 100gms of roasted or dried caterpillars are said to provide 76% of a humans protein requirement. Different parts of the mopane are also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments and the heavy, termite resistant wood is used for construction purposes, fencing and fuel.

Trees of Namibia

  • Windhoek: Windhoek Market
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Ongula Village Homestead Lodge

A traditional Owambo homestead which offers a unique opportunity of interacting with the local community while getting involved in local activities such as cattle herding and basket making.

Ruacana Eha Lodge

Situated at the Ruacana falls on the Namibia / Angola border - this lodge serves as a gateway between Kaokoland and Owamboland

Uukwaluhdi Safari Lodge

North of Etosha, east of Osahakati & west of Opuwo this remote lodge is situated on the vast plains of the Omusati Region. Attractions here include tracking Black Rhino.

Walvis Bay Accommodation