Uses for the Buffalo Thorn

Buffalo thorn
Ziziphus mucronata
This tree is implemented in various cultural rituals and beliefs. It is also a very useful tree; most of the plant can be used in one way or another. I will share some of these uses with you:
• Trees are planted around homesteads for thorny protection.
• Fruit ripen into red berries and are utilized by humans, birds and monkeys. Berries also get dried and cooked into porridge
• Seeds can be used at a replacement for coffee in desperate situations
• The tree has a hook thorn on one side of the branch and a straight thorn facing forward, which resembles your past and future. Locals believe that the hook thorn tells you to put the past behind you and the straight thorn tells you to move on and keep looking forward and never backwards
• Branches from the tree are also used in burial rituals where it is believed that the branch can carry the spirit of the deceased in a case where the person had passed away far from his home. The hooked thorn captures the spirit and the straight directs it to heaven.
• It is bad luck to cut these trees down after the first rains and drought is believed to follow
• The roots can be used to treat diarrhea and dysentery

FW – Kapama River Lodge
11/03/2013

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