PATTERNS IN NATURE: ERYTHRINA BARK

This is the time of the year when the enormous Erythrina caffra trees in our back garden start to lose their leaves. The strong wind brings cascades of them raining down to the ground. It is a ragged time for them and yet, before long, they will be covered with beautiful scarlet blossoms that will attract ants, bees, beetles, and a wide variety of birds. Erythrinas are a long-lived species. The ones in our garden were probably planted soon after the end of the Second World War and now, apart from being tall, they each sport a wide girth.

I find the smooth, pastel-grey bark interesting to look at with its rough texture, longitudinal fissures and these short thorny knobs. The prickles have faded with age, although new branches still have them. Many of the trees in our garden are covered with lichen – I am told this is a sign of the clean air in a town that lacks the water to support any but the lightest of industries. Healthy for us and healthy for the trees.