Plant indigenous trees for bees

Plant indigenous trees for bees like the Halleria lucida.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 25th November, 2018.

By Bernard Preston

Indigenous Halleria lucida for bees.

This magnificent Halleria Lucida is a beautiful indigenous tree to Southern Africa; its reddish flowers produce copious amounts of nectar for honey bees and other insects.

Apologies about the lime tree in the foreground but this is the best view I could get; of course, citrus is also dependent on honey bees, in part.

The common name for Halleria Lucida is the tree fushsia because of the hanging blooms that oddly are found along the branches rather from the tips; thus they are somewhat hidden and it's the profuse buzzing sound of the bees that draws your attention to them.

Most gardeners whilst not being against exotics would rather plant indigenous trees for bees if they equally fit the bill.

Halleria lucida is a particularly beautiful, small evergreen tree that can be grown very easily by slipping. It thrives quite quickly initially; the specimen above is over 10m tall and, if other trees in our garden are anything to go by, it could be 100 years old.

Certainly it was already quite a large tree when we moved here 35 years ago.

Don't plant it near a swimming pool; the flowers and leaves fall into the water creating a mess; we were pleased when one in our neighbour's garden was blown over in a tornado; constant sweeping of the surface was necessary when it was in bloom.

Out in the open it will grow into a broad shrub-like tree like the one that dropped leaves and flowers into our swimming pool. The specimen above is perhaps more typical in that, surrounded by other evergreens, it is tall and graceful.

It's a beauty to behold; both we, the bees and all tree huggers love Halleria lucida.

In water scarce countries like Southern Africa large numbers of Eucalypts are being felled because they apparently draw up a large amount and deny our dams. The problem is that other exotic invader species like Bugweed immediately replace them turning the area into an ugly jungle.

Companies given the responsibility to fell these Eucalypts should be compelled to plant indigenous trees for bees like our Halleria lucida in their place.

It's one of the strange contradictions of our world that whilst we are calling for the planting of more forests, we are simultaneously demanding trees like Eucalypts should be felled.

Plant indigenous trees for bees

Plant indigenous trees for bees which are beautiful and support threatened insects; and nectar loving birds too.

The sunbirds in our garden have made their nest in a very high palm tree, seen at the immediate left next to the Halleria; in fact the nectar-rich blooms are probably just five metres below their hiding place. Unfortunately the African harrier-hawk, or gymnogene as it's known, has discovered it and makes regular forays in the summer.

That hawk also terrorises our hens but to date hasn't taken one; now that we are about to start breeding chickens, I know that it will take a few little ones; that's nature and they must feed too to survive.

There are always interesting birds arriving to feed on the fruit when it's in season. Between the birds and the bees we have many interesting wildlife to enjoy.

I'll look out for the flowers and fruit in the future, and load some pictures. Meantime this is a magnificent indigenous tree for bees that could and perhaps should be in almost every garden. You'll never tire of it, or the creatures that come to visit.

Because our little pollinators are in such dire straits worldwide, it behooves us all to do our best to plant indigenous trees for bees to boost their food sources; and other nectar and pollen-rich plants.

Either we all take responsibility for caring for the environment, or our children's offspring will have to live on a barren shore.

The bees also love the flowers on that lime tree; and we love the juice in our iced tea and on our salads. Lime nutrition is loaded with anti-cancer and -arthritis phytochemicals; and it tastes and smells damn good! If one watches carefully, you'll see that the bees never fly from the lime to Halleria lucida; they are very plant-specific and even put the honey from different species in separate areas in the hive.

More about Halleria lucida.

» » Plant indigenous trees for bees

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Hilton, KZN

South Africa


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