Thursday, July 14, 2016

Gums and bees - Botanical

W&N watercolour and ink on Bockingford 300gsm - 8" x 12" unframed 
Eucalyptus is the most widely planted hardwood genus in the world, covering more than 19 million hectares. South Africa relies heavily on plantations of exotic forestry species, particularly Eucalyptus, to meet its timber needs.

Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs belonging to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. There are no indigenous eucalypts in South Africa, but they play an important role in our ecology, especially to the Bee-keeping industry. Bee-keepers need a supply of forage (food) for their colonies throughout the year. Because Eucalyptus flower at various times of the year, they provide a constant and reliable flow of nectar and a source of pollen, making them essential to the bee-keeping industry.

South Africa’s honey bees are under threat. They face diminishing habitat and forage resources, attack by the Varroa mite pest and American Foul-brood disease, pollution from pesticides, and stress from being worked hard to provide a pollination service. For honey bee populations to withstand these stresses, a healthy diet is critical for a fully-functioning immune system.

So next time you drive past a Eucalyptus tree, give a thought to the important role this tree plays in our landscape.

ITEM ID : GumsAndBees
PRICE : R350.00 postage included in South Africa

You can also purchase a framed print or other products at my RedBubble shop :

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kei-apple Botanical - and a Chameleon

Ink sketch and watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm – Kei Apple tree and a Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleonidae – Chameleo dilepis) - 12" x 8" unframed

Kei-apple, Dovyalis caffra, is well known all over the eastern parts South Africa, common in open bush and wooded grassland, and often near termite mounds. It belongs to a cosmopolitan family, the Flacourtiaceae, which are all good, fruit-bearing shrubs or trees, very often armed with vicious spines, and its name derives from the Kei River where it grows in abundance as a thick, shiny, spiny shrub up to three metres in height. The branches are armed with straight, robust spines up to 7 cm long.

Fresh, ripe fruits are rich in Vitamin C and pectin and, following the example of the Pedi people who squeeze the juice onto their pap (porridge), they make an excellent addition to a fruit salad and to muesli and yoghurt. Nature seems to know best when to give us the right foods to boost our immune systems in preparation for the onslaught of winter colds and ‘flu.

Last year my trees also bore an abundance of fruit for the first time ever and I ascribe this to the fact that we get heavy frost here in Tarlton (South Africa). It has taken almost seven years for my trees to reach just over three meters tall and I was absolutely thrilled to have the fruit. Of course I had to try them but they really are too acidic, with a slight hint of sweetness, to enjoy on a full-time basis. And I’m therefore also not surprised at all that Torti, my Leopard Tortoise, did not touch any that had fallen on the floor. But they look really beautiful displayed in a dish!

The Chameleon is wishful thinking - I haven't seen one in my garden for over ten years!
ITEM ID : KeiAppleBotanical
PRICE : R350.00 postage included in South Africa
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