Celtis africana leaves may show yellow discolouring, initially in zones along the margins, progressively all over as autumn sets in. The fruits of this tree are popular with several bird species; good for bird-loving gardeners, good for seed dispersal. Some moths and butterflies also interact with the tree in their reproductive cycles.
The indigenous C. africana is often confused with some introduced exotic members of the Celtis genus, notably C. australis and C. sinensis. C. australis has glossy green, hairless leaves. C. sinensis has coarse-haired leaves and stronger tapering to its leaf-tips, the marginal teeth larger. The problem is aggravated since these species tend to hybridise with C. africana, particularly in Gauteng.
Local born children of foreign residents are usually accepted as local citizens. Any laws made against unwelcome immigrants are only significant if enforceable. So many plants, also the foreign Celtis trees and their offspring of mixed origin are here to stay. For now they are recognised as exotic and as long as there are books and people who remember.
How many species have been added without anybody taking notice or even knowing they’re exotic and bring risk? This was of too little concern at times in the past; may not be a serious enough issue in the future. Nature is heritage, once lost always hard and often impossible to bring back.
Efforts to conserve nature deserve support, are supported, but perfection is unattainable, a statement true for every generation. How significant and sincerely regarded is this custodian role in our generation?
The involvement of school children and the public to discover and enjoy nature will only make a difference if the consequences of current practices are made clear in education and regulation.
A continual string of intermittent, small concessions over the generations will lose a great deal in the long run, if not the essence of what we need and desire. It is worth pondering these points while we still have some truly indigenous vegetation and unthreatened plant species left in parts of the countryside (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997).