We tend to associate the scarlet spiky flowers of various Erythrina trees with winter. Now, in the searing heat of summer, the thick cover of leaves on the Erythrina caffra in our garden is beginning to turn yellow. This gradual process warns us that the end of summer is already on its way. The leaves will turn brown and fall to the ground in time, leaving the branches bare and ready to be adorned by beautiful red flowers in winter. In contrast, the Erythrina humeana – Dwarf Coral Tree – happily blooms during the summer, bearing both leaves and flowers:

As you can see, the long red flower spikes of this attractive bush are carried above the leaves on slender stalks. What is not visible is the large underground wooden tuber, which helps to protect the plant from fire in its natural habitat.

Erythrina humeana grows in the wild from the Eastern Cape northwards along the coastal belt up into Mozambique. The name humeana refers to Sir Abraham Hume, the 19th century director of the English East India Company, who cultivated many exotic plants in his garden at Wormleybury.


It is becoming increasingly important to be aware of, and to celebrate, the diversity of species of flora and fauna that inhabit our world. Expanding human populations with the consequent need for land, homes, factories and warehouses are making large inroads into sensitive habitats that support our diverse wildlife – in whatever form. I offer these photographs in celebration of World Wildlife Day:

The Erythrina humeana or Dwarf Lucky Bean tree occurs along the coastal belt and the midlands of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga into Mozambique. There is one growing on a pavement in one of the suburbs where I live.

Blue Cranes are South Africa’s national bird and prefer open grasslands, where they forage for food while walking. Their numbers have been decreasing in the Eastern Cape and so I was delighted to come across these birds not far from town.

Cabbage trees occur in the bushveld, along forest margins, in mixed deciduous woodlands and among rocky outcrops. This one is growing in my garden.

While the Leopard Tortoise – the largest tortoise in South Africa – is not considered a threatened species, predators of the juveniles include rock monitors, storks, crows and small carnivores. Veld fires and passing traffic are also a danger to them.

Black-collared Barbets occur widely across Africa and are always welcome visitors to our garden.

It is difficult to choose between the many flowers, birds, butterflies, reptiles, trees, grasses and so on that occur here and so I will leave you with this magnificent pair of Kudu walking through the bushveld.