Not many visitors to the Kruger National Park (KNP) are aware of the impressive indigenous plant nursery, which is open to everyone, just outside Skukuza camp. The Skukuza Indigenous Nursery is nestled between Lake Panic and the western edge of the staff village.
The management of the nursery aims to succeed in three factors – research, conservation and education. Projects undertaken by the nursery are based on these objectives and include input from the nursery staff, academic institutions and students.
Recent projects have been designed to research the indigenous species and to put the results into action by creating a suitable environment in which these plant species can grow to their full potential, aiding conservation. Education on the rare and endangered plant species is spread as the plants, as well as up to date information, is made available to the public.
Most of the plants in the nursery have been grown from seed collected in the KNP, by field and section rangers in all the different landscapes of the Park. The nursery now has stock of over 185 KNP plant species ranging from trees and shrubs to aloes and other interesting succulents. Included in this number are the critically endangered Swazi Lily and the Wild Ginger, both of which are under cultivation in the nursery. The nursery is also well known for the beautiful impala and kudu lilies.
Management of the nursery falls under the SANParks Scientific Services Department, which aims to develop the nursery facility into a hub of botanical research and education that will encompass a wide spectrum of programmes to benefit the whole of the KNP. This service will also extend to facilitate education of both visitors, staff and particularly school learners about the value and distinctive attributes of our botanical heritage, its role in biodiversity and the need to practice plant conservation on a global scale.
Set out under a cool canopy of tall trees, the nursery is neatly laid out and presents detailed information of each plant species, from how big and how fast it grows to local medicinal uses of the specific plant. The staff is also knowledgeable on what plants to select for indigenous gardens and what conditions each plant require to grow.
Another exciting feature not to miss is the Wetlands Board Walk, which begins at the nursery car park and ends in the nursery grounds. The board walk, constructed by Working for Wetlands, provides an opportunity to view this rehabilitated wetland area and the birds and animals that live in this threatened habitat.
The Honorary Rangers run the nursery over the weekends and have compiled a comprehensive booklet providing lists of trees and shrubs that will attract birds and butterflies to your garden including those species that will grow on the Highveld.