• Nature coaching Poppy field

The Tree of Life

Posted on Sun December 22, 2019.

Our blogs form part of a number of short stories where wilderness experiences can be found. They can serve you to remind that observing wilderness restores you, coaches you and inspires us to create your world, day in and day out. Nature is coaching us.

This blog is about taking a moment of being proud of what you have built and achieved last year and in your life. What better wilderness icon than the mighty leadwood tree shows this to us, it’s the ultimate tree of life. Instead of putting the traditional Christmas tree at centre stage, I want to honour one of our bushveld legendary giants this festive season.


The leadwood tree can always be identified by its pale grey, deeply fissured bark which splits into narrow rectangular pieces. While it’s the tallest of all Combretum species it has the smallest four-winged fruits, so typical of this genus. The fruits are characteristically yellow, densly covered in small scales and measure about 10-20 x 15 mm. They are very numerous giving the entire tree a yellowish appearance for much of the year. The leadwood is a single-stemmed tree to about 15 meter high with a very characteristic gnarled trunk. It is one of the heaviest wood on earth, a fact referred to by the English common name. Leadwoods reach easily an age of a 1000 years and can remain erect for another 150 years. Many inhabitants of Africa regard the tree as the ancestor of mankind. The German common name “Ahnenbaum”, translated as “ancestor tree”, refers to this.

But what can we learn from the leadwood when we look past the surface and start to use our imagination and creativity? What does the tree show us with its many dead branches combined with the very much alive part of the tree?

The dead branches on the leadwood show us that once we were busy pursuing other things in our lives in which we have stopped putting energy in. We have made here a decision to focus on other things, people and activities. The leadwood shows that we are guiding our focus and energy now into the alive parts of the tree of our own life. The dead branches are still very much part of that tree and so are they of our life.

- Without the dead branches we would not be the person who we are now and we would not be now where we stand now - . The tree simply made a decision and stopped to send it’s sap-flow, it’s energy to those dead branches that does not serve it anymore, but still wears them proudly. These dead branches are indeed useful to many other animals and organisms.

Do you take time to stand still and take a look at the decisions you took in your life that were life-changing? Do you stand still to honour your dead branches, symbols of what you once were busy with? Label those dead branches and name them one by one, for what they stood for. Maybe it was a deep belief but now transformed? Maybe its a changed career or maybe a new partnership? Now focus your attention on the living part of your tree of life. What can you see that you are building up? Take a step back and view and admire the beauty of the leadwood tree, your unique tree of life! Are you leaving the legacy you have in mind? How does the new branch look like that you will create the next year? What decisions do you need to make?

Have a fantastic festive season with your loved ones!!!