I have often mentioned the beautiful wild flowers in the Addo Elephant National Park. Even when the spring bounty has disappeared, one is often struck by the scarlet flowers of the Huil Boer-boon or Weeping Boer-bean (Schotia brachypetala) that peep out from among the foliage.
Normally these attractive trees can grow to a height of about 11-16 metres. There are some beautiful specimens of this height with broad spreading canopies in our town. I have often watched a variety of birds feeding on the sticky nectar which exudes from the dense clusters of flowers which grow on the old wood. It is probably this dripping nectar that has led to the ‘weeping’ epithet.
In the National Park, however, they cannot escape being food for the browsers and so they tend to look shrivelled and sometimes barely even look like a tree. The ‘boer’ part of the name refers to the shape of their broad seeds which resemble a domestic broad bean and means ‘farm’ bean. It is also sometimes referred to as a Tree Fuschia.
The flowering period of these trees is irregular, which is one of the reasons why they are seen so often in the Park.