The Shepherd’s Tree (Boscia Albitrunca) or Witgat Boom (Afrikaans) is a protected tree in South Africa and is often called the Tree of Life as it offers sustenance to humans and animals. The word Albitrunca refers to the white trunk of the tree. The Shepherd’s Tree is an evergreen tree, living in the hot, dry areas and is a common tree of the Kalahari, bushveld and Lowveld where there is a low rainfall.
The Shepherd’s Tree can grow up to 10 metres (33 ft.) tall but they are usually much smaller. It has a prominent white trunk with strips of rough, dark-coloured bark. It has an attractive dense, round to spreading crown that is often browsed by antelope, with leathery, grey-green leaves that are arranged in clusters. They have flowers (from July to November) that are yellowish green and are heavily scented that are borne in clusters without petals.
The root of the Shepherd’s Tree is commonly used as a substitute for coffee or chicory, it can be pounded to make porridge and it can also be used to make beer. The leaves can be infused to treat eye infections in cattle. One of the cultural believes is that cows will only produce bull calves if the wood of the Shepherd’s Tree is burnt.