Mpayathutlwa Pan
Mpayathutlwa Pan
Eland in Mosemane Pan
Eland in Mosemane Pan
Zebras at Kings Pool
Zebras at Kings Pool
Moremi Gorge
Moremi Gorge
Lone Elephant
Lone Elephant

Mopane

Mopane
Setswana Name: 
Mophane
Scientific Name: 
Colophospermum mopane
Family: 
Pod-bearing Family (Fabaceae)

Description

The most diagnostic feature of the Mopane tree is undoubtedly the butterfly-shaped leaves, which are bright green when they emerge but turn into a kaleidoscope of autumn colours later in the season. These colours are characteristic of the landscape for many months of the year.

Most specimens are multi-stemmed and spread upwards in a narrow V-formation with a wide-spreading, rounded but relatively v-formation sparse crown. The bark is light to dark grey in colour and has very prominent longitudinal fissures. Some Mopane trees can attain a height of up to 25 m, especially on alluvial soils. When conditions are less favourable, small Mopane shrubs known as 'Mopane scrub' and locally referred to as "gumane", are more evident.

Bark

Very distinctly longitudinally fissured. Old stems are very light grey and younger ones are darker.

Leaves

Two leaflets arising from a single petiole. They resemble butterfly wings.

Flowers

Yellow-green, small, inconspicuous. Borne in pendant clusters near twig terminals.

Fruit

A flattened and leathery pod, almost kidney-shaped. Green at first, it contains one wrinkled, flat seed dotted with sticky resin glands.

Flowering

December to January

Fruiting

April to June

Distribution

The Mopane tree is the most common and widespread of all species occurring in the Okavango Delta and Moremi. The stretch known as Mopane tongue, which covers almost all of dry-land Moremi, consists predominantly of Mopane. The abundance of this species is ascribed to the fact that it is more tolerant of poorly-drained soils than other trees.