The genus Erythrina contains over a hundred species in different regions of the world. Six of these are indigenous to South Africa and two of them are common in the part of the Eastern Cape where I live. During our recent trip to the Western Cape and back, I was struck by the number of Erythrinas that are still in bloom. The smaller Erythrina lysistemon is probably the most widespread and was commonly seen at various places along our journey. This tree is growing next to the N1 just outside of Grahamstown:
These trees flower prolifically during the winter and early spring and brighten up the countryside:
The scarlet flowers are very eye-catching with their relatively long petals that enclose the stamens:
Growing next to this was an example of the other fairly common species, the Erythrina caffra. Its flowers are more open and have an orange hue. Note the backward curving petals and exposed stamens:
Three of these trees grow in my back garden, their pretty blossoms also appearing during winter and into the spring:
The flowers of both these trees attract a variety of insects and birds, providing much-needed sustenance during these ‘lean’ seasons of the year.