Another plant species for the list

Nothing is as exciting as discovering new plants and animals that are thriving on our beautiful Reserve!

We started the year off with the discovery of an extra flowering plant species on the Reserve thanks to photos and samples submitted for identification by head guide from Makweti Lodge, Neil Davison.

The delicate white flowers dotted with yellow  make the Star raisin a classic beauty (©Neil Davison).

Initially Research Ecologist Jonathan Swart was stumped, “I easily recognised the samples as a Grewia species but did not know which one as the flower didn’t look anything like a Grewia. Fortunately, I went with my first impression and was eventually able to identify this as Grewia avellana, Star Raisin. It is not endemic to South Africa and seems quite widespread in Southern Africa, although there is very little info on this species. I assume it is quite rare and probably localised.

The star raisin shrub usually grows less than 1.5m tall and has soft velvety leaves on both sides. The flowers are striking and delicate in white and the fruits are edible when ripe. Like many other Grewia species, in Southern Africa the shrub is widely used by local people to supplement food, as when the berries ripen they are a nutrient rich food source and a porridge can also be made from the grinding flour from the dried berries. Other animals are also fond of the fruits – baboons, jackals and a variety of birds also make use of the seasonal resources. However, this is not where the uses of the Grewioid shrubs end – the tough bark from several species are also traditionally used for basketry while the wood is used for bows, bowls and toothbrushes! Medicinal uses of the shrub includes using a poultice of the leaves stems and roots for their soothing and healing properties to treat wounds, cuts, ulcers, irritations and tea can also be made to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. All-in-all, Grewias a very useful genus of shrubs!

This was a great find by Neil and excellent photos of the plant and flowers; although I can only take the credit for identifying it, it was rewarding enough as it is another new species for Welgevonden”, says Jonathan.

Contact Us
close slider