hotos by Sally Chance, words by Sally and Mark Wade
Durban has an irresistible vacation atmosphere, and is known for the idyllic beaches, its world-class surf spots and diverse cultural community, and of course, it’s subtropical climate.
That environment, gives Durban only two seasons, spring and summer, and with its abundant rainfall, results in a green and lush growth of trees and plants.
Many exotics have grown there too, from the Americas, India and Australia, and there’s even an elderly Buffalo Thorn Tree, Ziziphus mucronate, in the Botanical Garden, that’s a remnant of the original bush which was cleared in 1851.
My intrepid friend Sally Chance set out to explore those wonders.
The word ‘Jacaranda’ is believed to mean ‘fragrant’ in a native South American dialect. It is said that the first Jacaranda introduced into South Africa, if not the subcontinent, was planted in the Durban Botanic Gardens in 1885, where it is still flowering. The Argentinian tree is popular as a street tree and is commonplace in many South African cities, notably in Pretoria. This large tree will grow up to 13m, often with an equivalent spread of fern-like foliage. In spring and early summer, it bears a mass of short trumpet like flowers in large clusters on leafless branches. Colours can range from blue to violet. A few rare specimens have white flowers. It is illegal to plant new Jacaranda trees as they are alien plants. They can live up to two centuries.
Colville’s Glory: This tree originates from western Madagascar. It is a deciduous tree and usually grows up to 20m tall, but occasional specimens can be up to 30m. It is often planted as an ornamental because of its delicate foliage, and bright orange flowers that grow in large cone or cylinder-shaped clusters. It is classified as ‘near threatened’ in the IUCN Red list of threatened species.
Pink Trumpet tree: There are about 100 species of Tabebuia, and as many as 12 grow in the Durban Botanic Gardens. Their flowers can range from yellow, white, pink, red or purple, including shades of each colour. These beautiful trees flower during late winter and spring. The species can grow up to 27m.
Golden trumpet: This tree looks and flowers like a Tabebuia. They reach a height of up to 30m. They are breathtakingly beautiful when they flower in late autumn/winter. They have clusters of golden yellow blooms, and each trumpet flower is fringed with frilly petals. There are a number of spectacular specimens on Durban’s Berea, that are traffic stoppers when they flower!
Flamboyant: These trees are regarded by many as the most beautiful of flowering trees. It is a wide spreading tree, 2-3 times its height. They line many of Durban’s streets, and flower for weeks on end during the Christmas season.The flowers can range from deep scarlet to vermilion and orange-scarlet. It has feathery green leaves forming a flat umbrella-like spread, and each blossom has 5 petals and the top petal is either white, yellow or pale pink streaked with crimson.