The silver cluster-leaf is a medium to large-sized deciduous tree which grows up to 9 m with individual trees reaching 23 m in height. It is part of the Combretaceae family and other common names are Mususu (Venda) or Vaalboom (Afrikaans).
It prefers deep, wel drained, sandy soils and is particularly prolific on the mid slope seep- lines of these Ecozones, where it grows in dense groups of various sizes.
This is a silvery-blue, upright, single trunked tree with branches that grows from the trunk at different levels to form distinct, horizontal layers. The name derives from the silver shine that you see caused by the silver hairs on young leaves.
The rough, dark bark is deeply fissured lengthwise. The slender branches are dark brown or purplish, peeling and flaking in rings and strips, exposing light brown under bark; young stems are often parasitized and, as a result, bear round galls often up to 2 or 3 cm in diameter, frequently with leaves growing from them.
Flowers grown in axillary spikes up to 7 cm long. It has a rather unpleasant, sweet odour with an off-white to yellow colour and blooms between September and January.
Two-winged pods are produced in bunches at the ends of the branches. Pods ripen during March and April, and change from light red to light brown in colour. They remain on the tree almost until the following flowering season.
Although the nutritional values are low, leaves and young shoots are eaten by elephant, giraffe, kudu and impala. Leave droplets are favoured by several grazers. The leaves and roots have several traditional uses. When boiled together this cocktail is taken orally for the treatment of coughs, diarrhoea and stomach aches. In case of bleeding, a paste can be made by cooking the leaves in water and placing them on the wounds. The wood is yellow and fairly dense, making it suitable for firewood, furniture and fence poles. Some potters use the silky silvery hairs to decorate their creations.