Tree of Wholeness ~ Milkwood

Tree of Wholeness ~ MilkwoodThe energy of the milkwood tree brings a deep sense of connection and belonging. The energy of the milkwood tree can assist us with feeling at home on the Earth – it connects you with your personal power, and reminds you on the cellular level that we are all one family. This is a nurturing and supportive tree and the essence may balance feelings of insecurity and lack of grounding. May be useful for adjusting to changes in the family structure brought about through loss or divorce. Milkwood essence may be helpful for nightmares and fears of the unknown.

This essence enlightens the root chakra.

Affirmation: I am One with the Earth. I receive and share her abundance with gratitude. I am worthy of abundance.

Milk Wood Tree Mist ~ Tree of WholenessCorresponding Colour: Red

Supportive Essences: The white stinkwood and the spike thorn essences may act as supportive essences to the milkwood essence – particularly if the milkwood essence is being used to address a long-standing imbalance and an “awareness crisis” has arisen. An awareness crisis is an intensification of negative feelings or old patterns of being. It is the soul’s way of calling our attention to these old blockages that need to be acknowledged, blessed and released.

Botanical Info

The Milkwood

Sideroxylon inerme


Learning about how this tree grows in nature, brings further appreciation of its essence:

Milkwoods are hardy, slow-growing trees with deep-green, leathery leaves and rough grayish-brown bark. Rarely are they found with a straight trunk. Instead their gnarled, sprawling branches create sheltering thickets that are home to a variety of wild life. By creating dense, low-crowing stands, milkwoods are one of the few trees able to withstand the salt-laden winds that batter South Africa’s southern coastline. Although also occurring inland, milkwoods are found mainly along the coast from the Cape Peninsula to northern Zululand. In days gone by, the site of a farmyard was often determined by the presence of a milkwood. Their thick, umbrella-shaped crowns created a perfect ‘roof’ for the meat chests that pre-dated refrigerators. Amazingly, all the milkwood trees at Platbos are genetically the same tree. Here they do not propagate themselves by seed dispersal – instead, when a milkwood grows old and falls over, a “new” tree sprouts from the fallen trunk. It is as though one enormous, ancient tree is slowly walking through the forest!

The delicate, pale-golden flowers of the milkwood are borne in clusters along the ends of the branches and they have an unusual sour-smell. The flowers are followed by juicy, dark magenta-coloured fruit that are enjoyed by birds and baboons. Once peeled of their outer skin, they have a grape-like taste. The milky latex, which gives the tree its common name, makes the leaves and the bark unpalatable to grazing animals. A superficial scratch to the bark reveals a bright red under surface – the colour of fresh blood. In the old days, trees that “bled” where held as particularly sacred trees.

Milkwood Pendulum with agate gem stone beadThe wood is very hard, heavy and strong. In the past, it was used for ship building, bridges, mills and ploughs. It is very durable even when wet and it shrinks little with drying. Wind-fallen branches are gathered at Platbos and hand-crafted into unique and beautiful pens, pendulums and pendants.

Traditionally the milkwood has a number of medicinal uses: the roots have been used to aid the healing of fractured bones and an infusion of the bark is said to dispel nightmares.

Feedback on the Milkwood Essence:

The milkwood essence has been amazing – it has certainly helped me to shift a very important issue of grounding – to do mainly with trust – and it has allowed me to get in touch with a part of myself which has been incredible. A lot of fear came up which obviously was very deeply seated. Thank you so much and I must commend you on the amazing work that you are doing. – Gretha, Quantum Healer

The milkwood essence is very helpful. I often wake in the early hours of the morning with a panicky, claustrophobic feeling. If I take the essence before I go to bed, I have found that I do not have this experience. Stanley, Psychologist

I have been using the Milkwood every day and was wondering why I was feeling increasingly lonely and sad and lost and having issues with friendships etc – till I realised duh! – this must be the awareness crisis you describe. It hasn’t been too comfortable, but I have had some hugely important insights and personal shifts, and am feeling a lot clearer today and somehow ‘held’ as well. I now have even more respect for the potency of the essences! – Fiona

The Milkwood Essence cleared the pain in my hip that was referring to the lower groin area and down my leg. It was gone within a day. – Monica, Domestic Worker

(milkwood bark was traditionally used for broken bones – so the essence is helpful here – this essence is very much to do with underlying structure and form; stability and grounding.)

I think the Milkwood made me look long and hard at boundary issues and the dangers of giving away your power and being over-obliging in order to please. Interesting, because I was expecting to feel immediately all warm and cosy and ‘one’ with everyone, but of course the emphasis is on wholeness first. I have been seeing that to relate truly to others, one must first know and accept oneself and be willing to be seen and heard and authentically oneself in relationships. I’m trying not to ignore my own needs all the time in favour of others and then moving into silent resentment at being taken for granted. All very complicated, but in essence (!pun!) I have been re-connecting with myself first, being more honest and holding my own ground more. There has been some quite startling fall-out with friends especially, but that’s ok – things have needed to change, and I feel quite protected and cheerful about it at the same time. Healthier (wholer) relationships will result. So the Milkwood has been both quite transformative and comforting. – Pippa

We welcome your feedback on the African Tree Essences: if you would like to share your experiences about this essence, please contact us.

Tree of Wholeness ~ Milkwood
Milkwood flowers

At Platbos there is a great forest elder whose trunk is estimated to be well over 1000 years of age. There are four milkwood trees in South Africa that have been awarded National Monument status and these are their stories:

The Post Office Tree of Mossel Bay

In 1500 a letter describing the unfortunate drowning at sea of Bartholomew Diaz, the famous explorer, was placed in a shoe by Portuguese sailors and tied to this milkwood tree. It was found over a year later by the man to whom it was addressed, Commander Joao Nova

The Treaty Tree, Woodstock, Cape Town

It was here, in 1806 that the commander of local defenses formally handed over the Cape to the British following the Battle of Blaauwberg.

The Fingo Milkwood Tree, near Peddie, Eastern Cape

The Fingo people pledged their loyalty to God and the British king under this tree in 1835.

Milkwood at Rhenosterfontein Farm, near Bredasdorp

This milkwood has been awarded National Monument status in recognition of its size and age: the trunk has a girth of over 3 metres and the crown a spread of over 20 metres.

Milkwoods are protected in South Africa and may not be cut without a permit.

References for Botanical & Traditional Medicinal uses mentioned generally in text for Platbos Tree Species:

Moll, Eugene and Glen.1989 Struik Pocket Guide Common Trees of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers

Palgrave, Keith Coates 1984 Trees of Southern Africa (Second Revised Edition). Struik Publishers.

Palmer and Pitman. 1961 Trees of South Africa.  Published by A A Balkema, Cape Town.

Pienaar, Kristo 1985 Grow South African Plants. Struik Publishers.

Schwegler, Mathia. 2003 Medicinal and Other Uses of Southern Overberg Fynbos Plants. Published by M. Schwegler, Farm Heidehof, Gansbaai

Van Wyk, Ben-Erik, Van Oudtshoorn, Bosch & Gericke, Nigel. 1997

Medicinal Plants of South Africa. Briza Publications

Van Wyk, Ben-Erik, Van Oudtshoorn, Bosch & Gericke, Nigel. 2000 People’s Plants of South Africa. Briza Publications.

Venter, Fanie & Julye-Ann. 1996 Making the Most of Indigenous Trees. Briza Publications.