Sickle Bush

Dichrostachys cinerea

The Sickle Bush is a hardy, thorny shrub or small tree (maximum 7m high) occurring in the savanna habitats of South Africa’s Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng and Northwest Provinces. In overgrazed areas the Sickle Bush quickly form dense thickets and as such can be problematic to farming communities, despite the leaves and pods being excellent fodder for game and small stock, and therefore regular clearing of such invasive thickets yield much sought-after firewood. It is considered to be of least concern by the IUCN. Apart from South Africa it occurs naturally over the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, South Asia and Australia, and has been introduced to the Caribbean and parts of North America.

The beautiful flowers are borne during summer, explaining where this plant gets its alternative local name of “Kalahari Christmas Tree” from. Apart from being used as fodder or firewood, or fashioned into small implements or fence posts, the roots, bark and leaves of the Sickle Bush is also used in traditional medicines. The species is also ideally suited to be made into attractive bonsai.

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