The Buffalo Thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) is a zigzag branch with two sets of thorns, one hooked and one straight, and they believe that this is how we should live our lives. The zigzag in the branch reminding us life is not always straight forward and can expect things to change at anytime, the hooked thorn telling us not to forget our past and the straight thorn to always keep looking to the future.

So this is a very important tree for the Zulu culture. If a family member passes away and they don’t have a body they will break a branch of this traditional tree and thrash the ground with it so the hooked thorn will capture the spirit. On their journey back they will buy two of everything so if they buy something to eat or if the buy a train ticket they will also buy one for the spirit in the branch. When they arrive home they will have a funeral for the spirit in the branch and is believed that the straight thorn will send the spirit to heaven.

By: Rob Bruard – River Lodge Ranger

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