Commiphora merkeri (2011)

PhotoBy Roger McFarland (June 2011)

The genus Commiphora originates from the Greek words “kommi.” meaning gum, and “phero,” meaning to bear. Most commiphoras exude a gumlike substance, especially when the bark is cut or dislodged.

Of the more than 200 Commiphora species from Africa, Arabia, India and the islands in the Indian Ocean, about 40 species occur in southern Africa.

Commiphora merkeri that I aquired a month ago is known as the zebra-barked corkwood. This small, spiny tree peels its yellowish, papery bark, leaving characteristic dark, horizontal, warty bands.

The tree is unisex, having either male or female characteristics on different trees. The name viminea means having long, flexible snouts. The flowers are yellow, and the fruit is red when ripe. This tree can mostly be found in Mozambique.

We have a book in our library that has a good description of the Commiphora species, so check it out.