Combretum imberbe

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Leadwood tree
Combretum imberbe00.jpg
The distinctively coarse, granulated bark
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Combretum
Species: C. imberbe
Binomial name
Combretum imberbe

Combretum imberbe (Leadwood, Afrikaans: Hardekool, Sotho: Mohwelere-tšhipi, Tsonga: Motswiri, Zulu: Impondondlovu) is a protected tree in South Africa.[1] The Leadwood tree is a semi-deciduous plant found from KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa in the south to Tanzania in the north. It normally grows up to 20 metres (66 feet) tall. The Leadwood tree has a spreading, rather sparse, roundish to slightly umbrella-shaped crown and a single, thick trunk, with distinctive bark breaking up into fairly regular rectangular blocks. Radiocarbon dating, done in South Africa, has established that a Leadwood tree can live up to 1040 +/-70 years and subsequently remain standing for years after the tree has died.


A cross carved by 1860's travellers, as it appears 150 years later
  • The wood is dense and very hard, difficult to plane, but drills, sands and turns well. It is termite resistant. It was once used for railway sleepers and is now prized as wood for ornamental work and furniture.
  • It burns very slowly with intense heat, and is often used for a fire which is intended to burn all night in order to keep wild animals at bay. It is sometimes used in a barbecue to provide a hot, long-lasting flame.
  • The ashes are used as whitewash for painting walls of kraal huts.
  • The ashes can also be used as toothpaste when mixed into a paste with water

The Hereros and the Ovambos of Namibia regard the Leadwood tree as the great ancestor of all animals and people and they never pass it without paying it the necessary respect.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Protected Trees". Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Republic of South Africa. Retrieved 13 June 2013.