The Trees of Kruger National Park
We its comes to literature about the Kruger National Park there is often reference to the “Lowveld”. So what exactly is the Lowveld in South Africa and whats the reference to the Kruger ?
As defined the Lowveld is a low-lying region between two specific mountain ranges, the Northern Drakensberg range that lies on its western side and the Lebombo Mountain ranges on the eastern side that borders South Africa and Mozambique. This narrow strip starts at the top of the Swaziland border in the south and heads north all the way up to the Limpopo River which borders South Africa and Zimbabwe. The altitudes of the region range between 150 to 900 meters above sea level.
The Lowveld is a summer rainfall region that receives between 200 and a 1000 mm of rain per year. The rain decreases from west to east and from south to north of the region. Summers in the Lowveld are hot and with temperatures in the Kruger National Park reaching high 40 degrees celsius. The winters are mild with few areas reciting frost. Winter days can reach 27 degrees celsius and have a low or 0 to 5 degrees celsius.
About 130 million years ago the Lowveld region of South Africa, that includes the Kruger National Park, was formed through continental plate shifts that caused topographical tilting and subsequent erosion. The outcomes of this informed the underlying geological layers and the visible topography of the region. All of these shifts and changes have comprehensively changed this landscape and the present day geological features are the underlying basis of todays habitats and eco-zones across the lowveld region and most importantly the Kruger National Park. The geology of the region is simplified down to granite gneiss/schist on the western side coming down from the Northern Drakensberg plateau and heading east the soils change to Basalt and clays before reforming into the Rhyolites that make up the Eastern Lebombo Mountains. This change is notable by the way that the Lowveld savanna flattens out from the Granite Inselbergs on the West to the open grassland plains of the East. This has a direct effect on the nutrient values of the soils with Granite creating more “acidic soils” that are nutrient depleted and the Basalt Clay soils being nutrient dense and known as “sweet soils”. The changes have near dramatic effect on the distribution of trees through out the region which decorate the savanna system of the Kruger National Park.
Trees of the Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Parks bio-diversity is unrivalled and with such vast wilderness areas it offers the traveller endless opportunities to explore and find new species. The Kruger National Park is divided into 16 different Macro-Ecozones supporting 336 different Tree species in the Kruger National Park. There are some species of Trees in Kruger National Park that are well distributed and prominent across the Park. These species we have named the Big 8 Trees of Kruger and where ever you travel in Kruger travellers have a very good chance of seeing atlas one or more in the surrounding area. These include :