This small tree is endemic to South Africa – found mainly growing on the rocky cliffs of the Drakensberg. Our Mpati mountain however is also home to this lovely small deciduous tree. This tree (or large shrub) although having ‘bottle brush’ like flowers, is not to be confused with the Australian common bottlebrush ‘Calistemon’ which is grown extensively in gardens.
Our indigenous ‘Bottle brush’ has bright fire engine red flowers which start late in Winter, often before the leaves, and put on a showy display right through to early Summer. In Autumn the leaves add their own show, changing to lovely shades of red and orange.
The bottle brushes on Mpati have formed extensive colonies in and between the rocky cliff sides together with the Aloes and other lovely indigenous trees. Their splashes of red as they start flowering making for quite a spectacular show. Some of these small Bottle brush trees are truly ancient, their trunks and stems twisted and gnarled with the passage of time. One wonders what stories they could tell!
This painting with its Sun bird pollinator – A ‘Greater collared’ male sunbird, was painted using water colours and Acrylic onto board, in honor of these beautiful Mpati trees.