One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A tree found in arid regions of southern Africa, with bitter-tasting leaves that are shaped like butterfly wings and fold together in intense heat.
Colophospermum mopane, family Leguminosae
- ‘Huge forests of acacia and mopani lie between the wetlands.’
- ‘The patterned coats of sleeping wild dogs are easily mistaken for dead logs, elephant dung and fallen mopane leaves, providing them with perfect camouflage in their favourite habitat.’
- ‘By daybreak, the elephants were gone, and in their place came a troupe of perhaps 60 baboons, some descending from the mopane trees to lift anything moveable.’
- ‘Fried locusts were common before the advent of pesticides, and the brightly coloured mopane ‘worms’, which feed on the mopane tree, actually caterpillars of the emperor moth, are much eaten in season.’
- ‘In the case of the mopane worm, for example, conservation of the mopane tree is the first step in Masonja conservation, but it is also relevant to the conservation of other animals feeding on mopane trees, such as elephants or even goats.’
Mid 19th century: from Setswana.
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