It is St. Patrick’s Day after all, so what about a song from The New Christy Minstrels?

Green, green, it’s green they say

On the far side of the hill

Green, green, I’m goin’ away

To where the grass is greener still …

We will stick with green, even though autumn is waiting in the wings, and begin  with the counting out rhyme

A little green snake

Ate too much cake,

And now he’s got

A belly-ache!

This green snake, found on the lawn at Royal Natal National Park, didn’t get a belly-ache but had its head neatly chopped off – probably by one of the gardeners.

Several streets of the town I live in are lined with oak trees. Here are new leaves shining in the sunlight.

While prickly pears are not indigenous to this country, they have spread everywhere.

Known abroad as the jade plant for some reason, the Crassula ovata is indigenous here and we have several of them growing in our garden. This one is almost ready to show off its lovely flowers.

Spekboom is also indigenous to the Eastern Cape and grows very easily in my garden.

Lastly, these pods of the Weeping Boerbean (Schotia brachypetala) caught my eye.



The Huilboerboon or Weeping Boer Bean or Tree Fuschia (Schotia brachypetala) is such an attractive indigenous tree that I am pleased to showcase it again. Most of the examples I have shown before grow in the Addo Elephant National Park, while this one I found growing out in the open on the edge of town.

Look it up on indigenous nursery sites and you will read that this evergreen to semi-deciduous tree has a beautiful shape with a low branching habit. Its counterparts in the game reserve do not get the opportunity to grow like this because they are regularly browsed by elephants and kudu, amongst other animals. The scraggly shape of this particular tree has undoubtedly been altered by the indiscriminate browsing of the Urban Herd that regularly grazes on the abandoned golf course.

The dense clusters of deep red flowers literally drip nectar and so they attract a variety of insects and birds.

The flowers tend to appear on the older branches of the Weeping Boer Bean.

The tree has been named Schotia in honour of Richard van der Schot, the Head Gardener at the Gardens at Schönbrunn in Hietzing, Vienna. The brachypetala part of the name means short petals. The sepals are showy, petals small or reduced to filaments.

The leaves are pinnately compound and dark green; larger nearer the leaf apex. The new leaves are initially a coppery bronze colour.

These trees occur naturally in the Eastern Cape. Fortunately they are very drought hardy as regular readers will be aware that we are in the midst of a serious drought.


As a change from the blue/mauve and pink blossoms I have showcased recently, here is a red delight. One of the few indigenous trees that has survived the two-pronged onslaught of drought and the Urban Herd in the park below our home is a Huil Boerboon (literally the Weeping Boer-boon), although it is known as a Tree Fuschia in English – a name I am not familiar with. The boer-boon (farmer’s bean) part of the name is a reference to the edible seeds which bear a resemblance to the domestic broadbean (Vicia faba).  The weeping refers to the copious amounts of nectar that spills from the bright red flowers of the Schotia brachypetala.

As you can see, the Huil Boerboon grows into an attractive tree with a wide-spreading, densely branched, rounded crown and a single trunk.

These trees are indigenous to the Eastern Cape as well as in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and in the Northern Province. It is interesting to learn that the flowers only occur on old wood.

We often see these trees in the Addo Elephant National Park, where they are browsed so much that there is no opportunity for them to ‘shine’. It is a delight then to have this one able to grow according to its plan where I can see it daily.


The drought may have robbed us of a fine display of wild spring and summer flowers in the veld, yet there are some indigenous trees that have defied all odds to produce beautiful blooms. The first are some lovely specimens of Virgilia oroboides, commonly known as the Keurboom (tree of choice). Several growing along the lower slopes of the hills around Grahamstown are covered with beautiful, sweetly scented, sweet-pea-like flowers in dense terminal sprays that are proving attractive to bees and butterflies in great numbers.

Although the Cape Chestnut (Calodendrum capense) in our garden is completely out of kilter with the seasons, there are some lovely specimens blooming along the street not far from where I live. Their pink canopies of flowers are a beautiful sight.

Further afield, in the Addo Elephant National Park, one’s attention is drawn away from the bare ground by the bright red flowers of the Huilboerboon trees (Schotia brachypetala).

Also known as a Tree Fuschia, these trees are sporting clusters of nectar-filled flowers that attract insects as well as birds. I have seen beautiful specimens of these trees growing in gardens. In the Addo Elephant National Park, however, they tend to be straggly and stunted with very gnarled trunks, thanks to being browsed by game.


I recently mentioned the Pied Crows perched on a stunted (or severely browsed) Schotia brachypetala. Given that my original post on this tree has been accessed regularly since it was published in 2015 – see – I thought I should provide an updated photograph of a particularly attractive example of these blossoms, which overflow with nectar – hence the ‘weeping’ part of its name. Not surprisingly, these scarlet flowers attract a wide variety of insects, birds and butterflies.

You can see a cluster of green pods on the right-hand side of the picture. This is what the more mature pods look like. They too have an attractive quality about them.

The tree, also known as a Tree Fuschia, has been named in honour of Richard van der Schot (1730-1790), the Dutch Head Gardener at the imperial Gardens at Schönbrunn in Hietzing, Vienna.

Note: Click on the photographs for a larger image.