As a craft gin drinker, you’re likely well aware of the success that the mixer company Fever-Tree has had with its ever-growing line of gin complements (you can drink them without gin as well - it’s just not as fun:-) The company takes its name from a species of African tree that is inextricably linked to the exploration of the continent by Europeans as well as to a certain illness that still plagues the world today. As it turns out, however, the trees had nothing to do with that illness. No matter. A Fever-Tree mixer and tonic will still cure what ails you.
Here are some facts to remember about Africa’s fever tree next time you tuck into your cold G&T.
TRACKING THE TREE
Fever trees are situated in eastern and southern Africa starting at the latitude of Kenya and following the continent’s eastern coast down to South Africa.
FREAKY TREE ALERT!
Fever trees are one of the only species of trees on earth whose bark performs photosynthesis, the process crucial to life normally carried out by the chlorophyl in plant leaves.
TREES TROUNCED BY TRUNKS
Elephants don’t like fever trees. It is thought that the pachyderms contribute to their short life possibly through sheer brute force.
A GREEK GOD OF AFRICAN ARBOR
The scientific name of the fever tree, Vachellia xanthophloea, comes partially from the Greek word for “yellow bark”.
THE YELLOW TREE OF YELLOW FEVER
Europeans gave the tree its name when they noticed that people tended to contract malaria when they were near the trees. However, it was later learned that malaria is transmitted by mosquitos and that it was merely coincidence that fever trees grow in swampy area.
LIVING WITH LARVAE
Fever trees are host to caterpillars which, when hatched, can strip the tree of all its leaves. When the caterpillars eventually emerge from their cocoon, they live in the tree as butterflies. Fever trees are also a staple food source for some species of baboon.
Fever trees reach a height of between 15 and 25 meters and grow approximately 1.5 meters per year