The Mopani tree bears this beautiful name thanks to its butterfly shaped leaves. Mopani means butterfly.

The amazing Mopani tree has more to it than just butterfly shaped leaves … it is also highly intelligent in design. It stores tannins, which lie dormant in its root and bark until an animal tries to eat the leaves.  When an animal takes a nibble it releases the tannin making the leaves inedible to most creatures.

The Mopani Tree.

photo CC attribution: artbandito on Flickr

The Mopani tree may be intelligent in design but it is also an elephant’s favourite snack. To get past the tannin issue the elephant doesn’t bother with nibbling off the tree instead it tears a whole Mopani branch from the tree. So, while the rest of the Mopani is rendered inedible thanks to the tannin, the elephant’s branch tastes delicious!


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