Sunday, 6 September 2015

Afzelia quanzensis -- Pod Mahogany Tree

"Afzelia quanzensis -- Pod Mahogany Tree Blossoms and Buds", drawing by 
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Afzelia quanzensis, featured in today’s posting, gets its genus name, Afzelia, from the name, Adam Afzelius, a 19th century Swedish botanist who lived in Somalia. The specific name, quanzensis, refers to the Cuanza River in Angola, where the tree was first found and described by European botanists such as Adam Afzelius

Afzelia is a genus in the family of Fabaceae (legumes). The thirteen species found in this genus are all trees native to tropical Africa or Asia. 

Afzelia quanzensis --
Pod Mahogany Tree

Afzelia quanzensis is a very attractive, medium-sized, deciduous tree, with bright green leaves that turn to a copper colour in autumn. Commonly known as pod mahogany (although not a true mahogany), it may grow to 35 metres in height with a large spreading crown. Its bark has a grey-green or creamy grey bark that is patterned with raised rings. The flowers are sweet-scented, borne in erect clusters and are green with pinkish-red petals. Large brown seed pods are produced in late summer. In autumn they split open to release distinctively marked black seeds with scarlet “tips” known as arils. These seeds are in great demand for ornaments and charms. 

Afzelia quanzensis leaves, pods and seeds

The distribution of Afzelia quanzensis stretches from Northern KwaZulu-Natal, through to Limpopo, Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries. It is also found in Somalia. 

In the past, an Afzelia quanzensis root infusion was used as a remedy for bilharzia and for other eye complaints. As well, an infusion made from both the roots and bark was believed to bring huntsmen luck if they washed in it. 

Afzelia quanzensis is now a protected tree in South Africa.

This was a very interesting plant to draw as the shape and design are very unlike the majority of flowers, including those found on most blossoming trees.  I would really like to see what the pod mahogany tree looks like in full bloom.  I searched for a photo online, but could not find one that satisfied me.  If any of you come across a photo that shows the tree in full blossom, please send me a link.  Thanks. 

The above information and the two photographs were taken from various Internet sources.


"Yes, I agree ... I am beautiful"
Photo and artistic additions by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015
Whenever I have guests (and Suki deigns to put in an appearance), the visitors always say: "What a beautiful cat."

Suki responds to this praise, usually, by allowing them to scratch behind her ears and under her chin while purring very loudly. I stand back and observe her behaviour while taking a moment to really look at Suki.

Upon doing so, I agree that she is, indeed, a beautiful cat -- a bit on the overweight side, but still beautiful.  At the same time, I can't help but be aware of the real Suki -- the cat I live with 24/7 -- the cat that awakens me every morning using various, annoying techniques -- the cat that has to get in my lap and try to push the telephone receiver out of my hand every time I get a phone call (which makes it extremely difficult to concentrate) -- the cat that sits and stares at me, unblinkingly, as the second hand on the clock slowly approaches her feeding time -- and so on and so on.

Not that I seriously mind any of these (or other) aspects of my life with Suki, but they do keep me mindful of Suki's personality which influences how I see her whenever I stop and take a good look at my feline companion.  

What I am trying to say, I guess, is that when we live daily with a person or a "pet", no matter how beautiful they may appear to others, we can't help but see them through the eyes of our relationship with them -- and the more difficult that relationship, the less likely we are to be able to see their physical beauty.

Thankfully, my relationship with Suki is quite wonderful and so when a visitor exclaims over her glossy coat and bright eyes, I can easily, once again, stop and "see" what a beautiful creature she really is.

Other than admiring (and catering to the needs of) Suki, enjoying the occasional visit with friends and talking on the phone with dear ones, my life continues as usual.  In other words, there is nothing new to report.

I do have an echo-cardiogram coming up this week.  As well, I am in the midst of treating another infection with antibiotics. However, these fall under the category of normal activities for me. 

Suki and I will let you know if anything unusual occurs in our quiet lives!



"Icon -- Christ Heals the Deaf-Mute", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2015

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Mk 7:31-37

Think of it... here is a grown man who had lived all his life with hearing any sounds or being able to speak properly and suddenly he can do both.  It must have been a terrible shock to him to discover how loud the world around us actually is.  Even more shocking would be the discovery that other people hear his noises -- his footsteps, his coughing, his humming, etc. I can only hope that this and all of the healings of Christ were so complete that they not only restored the bodily function but also healed the psychological trauma involved in being healed. Surely, this must have been the case as we are talking about people being healed by that Absolute, Unconditional Love which is God.

Most of us, these days, will not be healed of our physical ailments but I pray that we all may experience some amount of psychological healing -- that kind of healing that will bring us at least a modicum of that inner peace for which we all seem to long. I am especially aware of this need as I, and the rest of the world, watch, daily, the plight of the Syrian refugees.  So, let us pray...

May we, like the deaf-mute in today's Gospel, be blessed with an encounter with a generously loving heart at some point during our lives -- a loving heart which expresses true kindness, compassion and mercy -- a loving heart which shows us, however briefly, the joy and peace which comes from being loved and accepted just as we are.


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