We join Mike Amm, author and leading expert on Lowveld trees, and meet the splendid specimens of Tzaneen
Words: Lisa Martus
Pictures: Lisa Martus and Mike Amm
In nature nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be bent in weird ways and they are still beautiful’, writes author Alice Walker. I am sitting on the spacious stoep of Mike and Monica Amm’s house overlooking the Lowveld town of Tzaneen, in Limpopo, and this observation seems particularly true. Mike has all his tree reference books out on the table and is showing me photos of his choice of remarkable trees in and around Tzaneen. There is an incredible range of ancient giants, spreading canopies and gnarled trunks with impressive girth.
“I asked Thomas Packenham if I could borrow his term ‘remarkable’ for my Tzaneen beauties,” says Mike, referring of course to Packenham’s series of books dedicated to the remarkable trees of the world. Mike has discovered a world of distinguished candidates in his own backyard, which he has presented in a series for the local Letaba Herald newspaper. As Mike waxes lyrical (as much as a down-to-earth farming man can) about acacias and marulas, yellowwoods and fig trees, I begin to see a pattern emerging that I find remarkable; most of these trees are ‘in daily use’ in and around town.
Below is a gallery of these quiet giants: