Although this tree is native to the forests of South America, they grow here as exotics in Mbombela, South Africa. One can spot them from quite a distance as the beautiful pink canopy is very eye- catching. These trees belong to the same family as the baobab and kapok tree. Whoever imported this tree to South Africa made a wise choice as it is resistant to drought and moderate cold.
When I first noticed this tree, I grabbed my camera and stood beneath it. The bees were taking full advantage of the nectar in the exquisite pink flowers. I took full advantage myself, thoroughly enjoying the extravagance – drinking it all in, and taking as many pics as I could. Luckily the bees ignored me. I was of no interest to them with all that nectar around.
The tree I stood under was about 20 feet high. The trunk, bottle-shaped and studded with broad, sharp, conical prickles. This protects the tree from wild animals. A human would think twice to touch or climb this tree. Nature sure wants to preserve the delicate flowers.
The flowers are beautiful and elegant. The fruits look like capsules and contain black seeds surrounded by fluffy, fibrous matter similar to cotton or silk. This has been used as stuffing in furniture and pillows etc. The wood can be used to make canoes, paper, pulp and rope can be crafted from the bark.
LITTLE BEE. ©
Little Bee, little Bee,
Buzzing around the silk floss tree
With a constant humming
Which invigorates even
The quiet morning air.
Laden with nectar and pollen
You hastily retreat,
To your hive which beckons
In a hollow, a tree, somewhere discreet.
Your collection for now is complete,
But ever the worker your task is never done.
You combine with your co-workers under the sun
Creating the sweetest golden honey for everyone!
Copyright. Caroline Street. Photography and Poetry, ‘Little Bee.’