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Mystery of the White Milkwood

Through our virtual programming series, Nature in your Neighborhood, we challenged volunteers to go out into their neighborhoods or backyards to see what plants sparked their interest. Whether plants are native or non native, we can all appreciate a connection to nature and the curiosity that it can spark!

By: Izabel Kwe

White milkwood’s scientific name is Sideroxylon inerme and originated on the South African Coast. It’s name means “Ironwood” in Greek because of how strong the wood from the tree is. It can grow up to 10-15 meters and produces small, white flowers along with purplish-black fruit. It’s usually a coastal tree and attracts many birds because of its fruit. The plant actually has many medicinal uses and is traditionally used to help heal broken bones and dispel nightmares. It was most likely brought over by Portuguese explorers that came from Africa, but now the tree is one of South Africa’s “Protected Trees” so it cannot be cut or regrown without permission. The milkwoods are also known as the Treaty Tree and many are recognized as monuments in Africa because of its history as being the site that many colonial treaties were made.

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