A crying tree – The Weeping Boer Bean

Although, when looking at the bushveld, is seems rather monotone (oranges and browns and greys in winter and greens and browns in summer), there are a myriad of colours hiding away for those who look closely.  In springtime especially there is quite a bit of red.

A favorite tree of mine is one with the most beautiful red flowers.  They stand out because they seem to shine brightly in the sunshine.  This is due to the copious amounts of nectar they exude – coating them in a sheen of sticky honey – so much so that the nectar drips onto the ground under the tree.  That is why it  is called the weeping boer bean.

Scotia brachypetala has quite a few other names too which help describe it.

  • Parrot Tree – the nectar attracts a lot of birds
  • Drunken Parrot Tree – excess nectar ferments and can have a mild narcotic effect on some birds
  • Weeping Boerbean – the name we use here – weeping due to the nectar dripping and bean because it is a leguminous tree
  • Huilboerboon – is the Afrikaans name (huil = cry)
  • Tree Fuchsia – totally different family to the fuchsia but has similar flowers (ballerina flowers)
  • African Walnut – the roasted seeds are edible.
While the tree in my garden pictured here is only about 3m tall, these trees can grow to about 22m high with a spread of 15 meters.
Not only is Schotia brachypetala an exceptional ornamental tree, it also has a number of other uses: A decoction of the bark is taken to treat heartburn and hangovers (good to know :) ). Bark and root mixtures are used to strengthen the body and purify the blood, to treat nervous heart conditions and diarrhoea, as well as for facial saunas. The seeds are edible after roasting, Both the Bantu-speaking people and the early European settlers and farmers are said to have roasted the mature pods and eaten the seeds, a practice which they learned from the Khoikhoi. The bark can be used for dyeing, giving a red-brown or red colour.
Here are some pictures of the flowers
In the picture below you can see the gooey nectar. Also the bean pod in the middle of the flower and some ants busy collecting nectar.

And the rain begins to fall….

Our first spring rain fell at 3am this morning.  It was a hot thunderstorm.  Cleo woke us up – she doesn’t like the thunder.  I sat on the veranda in the dark watching the first drops fall. I wish I could describe the electric atmosphere and the smell.  My cousin said to me today that you don’t get that smell anywhere else -she lives in Australia now.  I have been in rain in many places in the world and I would have to agree.  There is nothing like the first spring rains in Africa.

We had another storm at lunchtime today and it is threatening to fall again.  The trees look greener already – it’s amazing how they seem to change overnight.

 

As I type up this post we have just had a warning over the radio of possibilities of severe thunderstorms for today and tomorrow.  The sky is dark with cloud – lets hope that all these storms bring is good water for our land and that no one gets hurt.  We have had two tornadoes in South Africa over the last 24 hours – almost unheard of in our country and people have been killed and injured.  It’s so sad that this beautiful weather can also be so cruel.

 

 

Spring on the mountain

Each time I go up the mountains here, I am totally floored by the amazing plants in bloom.  Besides the flora being totally different to that of the surrounding lowveld, there are new things to see in every nook and cranny all year round.

It’s the first time I have been up when there has been a significant amount of cloud cover and also my first time in early spring.

Our national flower, the protea, is in full bloom.

Sue enjoying the view midst small protea plants.

Transvaal bottlebrush

other little bits of colourThis little plant was growing in a crack in a rockSome kind of wild cucumber type vineClivias growing in the fork of a tree

Coral tree bloom (we have these all over the place right now – not just on the mountain)

It was super having Rose with us as she could tell us just about every Latin name for each and every plant – I want to be able to do that one day – she’s awesome.

I can’t wait to go up the mountains again, yet I know they will look so very different again.  We noticed that there were hundreds and hundreds of clivias in the forests on the slopes of the mountain – I want to go up when they are in flower – what an awesome sight that will be. Now I just need to find out when they flower here.

 

And when tomorrow comes….

Tomorrow is the 1st of September.  Traditionally celebrated as spring day here in South Africa.  Our weather is normally warming up, birds are returning, and trees are budding and blossoming. Schools and businesses normally celebrate by encouraging students and/or staff to wear bright colours. It’s such a cheerful day.

This morning I caught my first whiff of orange blossoms.  Hoedspruit has the most amazing orange blossom smell for a week or two in spring time.

Tomorrow, however, I am going to be doing spring day a little differently.

If you have followed some of my recent posts on rhino poaching you will know what an awful problem we have here in SA. It’s time we grabbed this problem – all of us – and sorted it out.  There has been a lot of talk, and quite a bit of money raised – but what is going to stop the poaching?  We need to raise the awareness of this issue, from a national level to an international level and things need to get done. Soon we will only be able to show our children and grandchildren pictures of these amazing beasts because there won’t be any left.

South Africans (and people all around the world) are uniting tomorrow on spring day to bring about awareness of the rapidly depleting rhino population in South Africa and asking the government to take a serious stand against poaching of rhinos.

I am wearing black tomorrow and will tie a black ribbon around the right hand mirror of my car.  Many South Africans (and others around the world) are doing this to show poachers that the people of South Africa will stand together and say no to poaching.

There is a Facebook event with more information which can be accessed if you click here.

Will you be joining me?

Spring is just around the corner

I got this on email from a friend today.

The weather is definitely getting warmer and it seems that the August winds have come and gone. Now we just wait for the rains (which normally only arrive in October.)  I hope they arrive earlier – everything is so dry and dusty.

This weekend we plan to travel up the escarpment to the small town of Dullstroom.  We will also be visiting an old cemetery.  Look out for my posts next week. I hope to get some good pictures.

Have a lovely weekend!