The Myrsine Mystery – Tree of Grace Essence

14-grace-moonKey Qualities: transcendence, spiritual evolution, miracles and magic, grace and gratitude, radical faith

Balances: existential loneliness, alienation, fear of the unknown

Affirmation: I am a child of the Universe and I am gracefully aligned with the Divine Blue Print of Life which is forever unfolding.

Supportive Essences: Bladder Nut, White Pear and Baobab.

See Also: Myrsine Mystical Mist

Tree of Grace ~ The Myrsine MysteryThe Tree of Grace is a tree of mystery. She holds the energy of evolution and magic in motion – boundless, unknown and infinite. Rich in potential and possibility, she reminds us of how little we truly know about the universal forces that underpin and manifest our earthly existence. Words cannot pin her down for she is currently in the process of creating herself.

This new Platbos tree was discovered (see details below) at a key time for humanity: its essence is here to assist and support us as we navigate through the great shift into the Golden Age of Aquarius. This essence holds us in a space of grace and faith as we open to and embrace the magic of the unknown.

The Tree of Grace essence is particularly helpful for Empaths, Highly Sensitives and Neurodivergent people.  It is a comforting essence for those who have often felt alone, and “out of place and time”. It assists with accessing and developing our unique gifts, and with connecting to our greater “soul tribe” where we can find resonance, purpose and belonging.

Tree of Grace ~ The Myrsine Mystery
Tree of Grace ~ The Myrsine Mystery

Botanical Info

Family: Primulaceae
Botanical Name:  Myrsine pillansii
Common Name: Large Cape Myrtle

Large Cape Myrtles / Myrsine pillansii most often occur as multi-stemmed shrubs but occasionally – like the one at Platbos Forest Reserve – they are found as small trees of roughly 4 to 6 metres in height. These are protected trees in South Africa because of their rarity. They have been discovered growing amongst low scrub and along streams on the edge of evergreen forest. Their leaves are shiny and dark green on the upper surface, and a paler green below. They are elliptic in shape with finely serrated edges. The bark is grey and roughly textured and reminds me of the coarse hide of a rhinoceros. The tiny flowers are a glistening white with miniscule splotches of magenta. They occur in clusters along the ends of the branches. The fruit is a small, beige coloured berry, the size of a peppercorn.

The Myrsine pillansii is elusive and rare. It was only in 2018, thirteen years after making our home at Platbos, that this tree was identified as the fourteenth tree species of Platbos. Our Myrsine grows as a small tree of about six metres in height. It occurs in the uppermost reaches of the forest, its branches snaking through a low-growing Milkwood. Both trees are surrounded by a dense tangle of Spike Thorns, Fine Ironwoods and Saffronwoods. The dark green leaves of the Myrsine blend with the general foliage and we passed it numerous times over the years without seeing it. When we did finally notice it, samples of the leaves, flowers and fruit were sent to a number of botanists for identification but it drew a blank. In the end, it was the tree who told me her name.

I was examining the tiny flowers with a magnifying glass and they reminded me of another Platbos plant species, the Cape Myrtle (Myrsine africana), a pretty and prolific understory shrub here. I quickly consulted my copy of Trees of Southern Africa by Coates Palgrave – the “Tree Bible” – to see what other Myrsine species were listed. Sure enough, a small tree, bearing resemblances to the one here, was described: the Myrsine pillansii. I sent off flower and leaf samples to the Kirstenbosch Herbarium in Cape Town with the suggestion that it was a Myrsine pillansii and shortly thereafter my identification was confirmed.

For me, this is a powerful example of intuitive interspecies communication in action. The flowers that I examined – tiny as they were – turned out to be the old, spent flower calyxes. The fresh flowers of the Myrsine pillansii – along with its leaves and other growth patterns – bear no obvious resemblance to those of the Myrsine africana which are delicate, wispy shrubs no more than about 75 centimetres in height. Yet, in a matter of minutes I had correctly identified the tree. The tree, I believe, sent me a psychic message that bypassed the usual scientific methods of identification which would have been time consuming and arduous given the rarity of this tree and the fact that highly respected botanists had already failed to recognize it. This is not to say that the Linnaean taxonomic system is not of value – as a horticulturist I use it all the time with plant identification – but rather it is to highlight the intelligence of the Green Beings and their ability to communicate with us if we are prepared to listen intuitively to them.

Having identified it however, the Mystery Tree – as I dubbed her– continued to mystify and perplex me. I refer to this tree as a “she” both because her energy feels feminine to me, and also because this tree carries female flowers that turn into small, brownish-red fruit. The Large Cape Myrtle is dioecious – the male and female flowers are found on separate trees. While it is possible that another Large Myrtle will still be discover in the Reserve, for now this one appears to be an isolated specimen whose fruits will likely be sterile as she has no mate.  I have not found any seedlings coming up in the area, so likely this is the case.

Not much is known about the Myrsine pillansii. Specimens have been recorded throughout South Africa: the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the North West Province and Zimbabwe. However, it is a very rare species of sporadic occurrence; and hence there is little information about it. Invaluable then is John Burrow’s article on the Myrsine pillansii in 1999’s edition of Plantlife (20/1999). He too found himself immersed in the Myrsine Mystery when isolated specimens were discovered in the Buffelskloof Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga. To summarise Burrow’s findings, the Myrsine pillansii, when it occurs, is always found in the presence of the delicate understory shrub, Myrsine africana. In addition, on two different occasions, when hundreds of the Myrsine africana seeds were sown, a single Myrsine pillansii seedling appeared amongst the other seedlings which germinated true to type. From this, it has been surmised that the Myrsine pillansii may not be a distinct specie of its own but rather a polyploid.

Polyploids are a genetic anomaly wherein the individual possesses a natural doubling of the chromosomes of the parent plant. This results in a larger individual, with bigger leaves, flowers and growth patterns. The natural phenomenon of polyploidy is considered to play a significant role in the evolution of higher plants. In fact, the majority of flowering plants and vertebrates have descended from polyploid ancestors. Polyploidy is the most rapid method known to produce radically different and robust new individuals that are able to adapt and thrive in changing environmental conditions. *1

Intuitively, my sense is that the Myrsine pillansii is indeed an evolving new tree species – that the scattering of isolated trees found around Southern Africa are the forerunners – and that one day they will produce viable seed.

My challenge is to successfully propagate the seed of the Platbos Myrsine pillansii; failing that, a molecular study is required to unravel the Myrsine Mystery once and for all.

Trees of Southern Africa – Keith Coates Palgrave, Second Revised Edition, 1988
BURROWS, J.E. (1999). What is Myrsine pillansii?  PlantLife 20: 25-26.
Photos of the Platbos Myrsine pillansii by Kali van der Merwe ©

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