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Recommended English names for South African Trees

One of the main reasons for having names is to "identify and remember" objects or organisms. Being able to put names to faces is part of this learning process, and by having easy to remember, descriptive names makes the whole process a lot easier. Tree Names must be scientifically accurate and politically sensitive. South Africa now has approx. 1300 named trees, many of them growing in a vast diversity of habitats and therefore forms. It is confusing for the uninitiated unless they have the facility of learning under an expert - which is not always practical. If Tree-spotting and Indigenous gardening are to be promoted - which in turn will add to the number of people contributing in some way to conservation - it is imperative to have easy to use, say and remember names.

In 1999 a day long event was held at the Avis Center in Johannesburg and was in association with the National Botanical Institute. Invitations to the conference were sent out to representatives of a wide spectrum of interested people and organizations. Essentially these included: academics; artists; publishers; tree authors; botanical specialists; media; National, provincial and municipal Parks; nursery men; training institutions; Tourism industry; Tree societies and wild life organizations.

At the conference a number of speakers presented their views on the feasibility and necessity for name changes. It was agreed that some changes and standardization were desirable and as a result an elected work group met regularly to apply the principles decided to the task of producing a list of Recommended English common names for trees.

Background and principles applied (PDF)

List of recommended English common names for trees (PDF)