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.