Cloudy skies and happy surprises

Finally the clouds have come to stay awhile and have blessed us with abundant rain. The glorious sound of thunder and lightning once again and downpours through the night.

Making my way up the slippery path I breathed in the heavenly damp smell of the earth. The air thick with a steamy humidity as the sun gently warmed the rain soaked ground. Even though the green is still to come, the change is immediately apparent, there is a sigh of relief in the breeze. The birds have suddenly come to life with a renewed and frenetic energy and a flurry of song.

It was a happy run.

Making my way down the last steep slope a flash of brilliant coral red caught my eye, and I wondered off the path to investigate. ‘Erythrinia zeyheri’ is a subshrub that grows no more than 60cm tall and occurs naturally in the higher grasslands of Southern Africa and also in Lesothto.

Commonly called the ‘plough breaker’ or ‘ploegbreker’ in Afrikaans, because of it’s extensive and tough underground root system. The flowers closely resemble those of its cousin the common corral tree – Erythrinia lysistemon.

The leaves are covered in prickly spines, probably to deter grazers. In Winter the leaves and stems die down completely, disappearing, and eventually they make their appearance again in late Spring with their bold and striking display. The roots are used as an asthma treatment in traditional medicine.

Just when I think I know the mountain quite well it surprises me with something new.

‘Grewia occidentalis’, (also known as the ‘cross berry’ shrub – due to it’s distinctive four lobed fruits, and also the ‘donkey berry’ – I have no idea why) – is a pretty and hardy shrub. In cultivation it can easily reach 3 meters and is considered a small tree, here in the veld though it tends to be a small scrambling shrub, hugging the ground. This attractive shrub flowers profusely from October through Summer and has pretty lilac pink flowers.

It is quite a common little shrub and I always look forward to seeing it flowering.

The four lobed fruits or berries

I was however pleasantly surprised to see a white flowering Grewia alongside the path as I was nearing the end of my run. I clicked away happily taking photographs of my new find. As I turned to go again, I looked up to the right and lo and behold, there was an entire bank covered in white cross berry bushes that I had not noticed before.

Once home I scoured the net trying to find out more about the colour variations of this shrub. Apparently white is quite a rare find!

Still the mountain continues to surprise and delight…

13 thoughts on “Cloudy skies and happy surprises

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      1. Oh no. Seems the “new normal” will see our rainfall always falling in the category of either too much or too little. We pray everyone will be safe, whichever way the weather turns.

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  1. Your description of the rain is WONDERFUL! I can smell it, hear it, breathe it and I rejoice in it for you. Two wonderful discoveries on your run today must be positive omens. It is amazing how quickly the veld recovers after a decent rain and I am looking forward to that here. I am fascinated by the white crossberry flowers. You have posted a lovely picture of the fruit, looking so juicy!

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    1. Thank you Anne -yes it has been such a blessing and relief. hope that it continues! The cross berry fruit is unusual, I grew a shrub from seed once years ago and it grew into a lovely small tree in the garden – a very rewarding shrub. I would like to try and propagate the white one, would be interesting to see if it flowers white..

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  2. Yes, having rain has been wonderful – except of course that it has been a bit extreme and sadly even destructive in some areas. Our ground is already waterlogged. I wish the rain could be averaged out across the country to include the drought-stricken areas too!
    I love your photos and the cross-berry is one of my favourites, and such a magnet for insects when in flower. I have never seen or heard of a white one before – what a find!

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