Friday, 24 February 2012

Erythrina x bidwillii

Erythrina xbidwillii (camdeni), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Warning:  x-rated information follows.  If your children are peering over your shoulder as you read this, you should cover their eyes before reading any further.  Now, you can continue reading about the off-spring of male and female flowers!  (Sorry, I couldn't resist a bit of foolishness -- it must be the mood I am in today.)  Anyway, here are the scientific facts regarding the Coral Bean Tree.

Erythrina ×bidwillii is the scientific name for two different hybrids (cultivars) produced from hybridizing Erythrina species at Camden Park Estate, New South Wales, Australia, in the early 1840s. The two different cultivars resulted from two separate crossings of Erythrina herbacea L. (female) with Erythrina crista-galli L. (male):

Erythrina ×bidwillii 'Camdeni' (tree)
Erythrina ×bidwillii 'Blakei' (shrub)

Erythrina bidwillii in garden
Although the flowers of both cultivars are similar, the form of the plants is different - one is a small tree (Camdeni), while the other is a shrub (Blakei). The tree form, when protected from frost, can obtain the height of 20 feet. The genus name Erythrina comes from the Greek erythros meaning red, both the flower and seed are bright red. They are members of the Fabaceae (legume) family.  There are over 100 species of Erythrina that grow in warm, frost-free regions of the world.

Erythrina or
 The wood is strong and light weight with the buoyancy of balsa wood. The wood has been used for canoe out-rigging, fish net floats and surfboards. In Africa the tree is considered a royal tree and planted on the graves of Zulu chiefs. When the tree began to flower, farmers knew it was time to plant crops. Medicinal use suggests that species have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects (it is rumoured to have narcotic effects!). The seed is said to be a lucky charm.



Many of you already know of my love for trees.  I have shared my own poetry and prose with you in the past which reveals how deeply I can be moved by the sight of a beautiful tree under a sunlit sky or dark against the falling dusk.  One of the best know poem about trees, however, is the one by the poet, Joyce Kilmer.

Joyce Kilmer was born in the U.S. and died in France at the 2nd Battle of the Marne at the age of 31in 1918.  At the time of his death, he was considered to be a leading Catholic poet and lecturer, a contemporary of Chesterton and Belloc.  Although the poem, Trees, seems now to many to be a bit of doggerel, it does have beauty.  For me, it has helped in the expression of what I want to say about trees.  In case you have never read the entire poem, here it is:

(For Mrs. Henry Mills Alden)
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
~ Joyce Kilmer

Here are a few photographic examples of the truth spoken in his poem.

Tree full of light

Tree in the fog

Solitary Tree

Tree of Life

The beauty of age

Africa, Africa



Suki celebrating her victory

Shower Bench for
Well, Suki is at it again ...  When she first came to live with me two years ago, she immediately discovered that the drain for my big shower stall was loose and that with a bit of prompting from her, it would come off.  This left a big black hole with all sorts of strange smells coming from it for her to investigate!  "Yuck", said I.
Full 2 L container
of liquid soap

At that time, I was able to discourage her interest by making certain that one leg of my shower bench was always placed securely on top of the drain plate.  After she discovered that she could no longer easily remove the plate, she ignored it, turning her attention to things more easily accessible.

Well, recently, for some reason, she decided to investigate the shower plate again.  This time she discovered that if she worked at it very diligently, the could move the shower bench just enough to pull the plate off very satisfactorily!  I discovered rather quickly what she was up to since it is a somewhat noisy procedure and my hearing is excellent.  As soon as she heard me coming, she would run and hide which indicated to me that she remembered my raised voice two years previously when she had done this.

Each time, I would place the bench leg back in place very carefully and while this made it more difficult for her to accomplish her task, I think the challenge only made the process more interesting for her!  Finally, after she had done her little "trick" twice in one day, I decided to try a new tactic.  I took a full liquid soap bottle containing 2 L of the stuff and placed it directly over the drain cover.  Since doing this, I have discovered that Suki finds it impossible to remove the bottle and so it seems I have won the current battle.  However, as we all know, cats don't like to lose.  So, I expect I will be reporting further on this matter some time in the months ahead.  Woe is me!

As for me, I am doing very well -- all things considered.  Sadly, I have to interrupt my comfortable life style by having a colonoscopy on Monday morning.  Thank goodness they sedate you for the procedure so I will neither have to be aware of the process nor listen to the comments of the doctor and nurse.  Afterwards, my friend, Sharon, will accompany me home as they tell me that I will be rather dopey.  I am sure I would be fine on my own, but these people do get rather irritated when you don't follow the rules.  So, thank goodness for a dear friend like Sharon who so freely gives of her time.

Otherwise, all appears to be well.  I haven't fallen since the beginning of January now -- I have come close a couple of times but it was usually when I started feeling that "space-y" feeling and tried to ignore it and just keep doing whatever task I had set for myself.  As long as I stop whatever I am doing and go and take a "cat nap", I am OK.  So, while Miss Suki is a real mischief maker, she is also a good teacher when it comes to teaching me how to sleep when I need to sleep and not feeling guilty for doing so! 
A friend of mine has just been diagnosed with cancer and will be having surgery soon.  I think the prognosis is considered to be good, at the same time, this is not a diagnosis anyone wants to hear.  If you feel so inclined, please join with me in asking St. Peregrine to pray for her -- and for anyone you know who is suffering with cancer at this time.

O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty", "The Wonder Worker" because of the numerous miracles which you obtained from God for those who have turned to you in their need. For so many years, you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being. You turned to God when the power of human beings could do no more, and you were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His cross to heal your affliction. I now ask God to heal this sick person whom I entrust to you. Aided by your powerful intercession, I shall sing with Mary a hymn of gratitude to God for His great goodness and mercy. Amen.
May the peace of God be with us all.

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