Trees in Africa
Written by: The Bridge on Friday, August 8th, 2008
When we first arrived in this distant land across the sea, I was fascinated by the strange and beautiful trees. Coming from Canada, I was used to our rather thin trees, trees that faced cold and impeding winters every year, and therefore it takes our oaks, poplars, maples and coniferous trees a long time to grow. Here it is entirely different – to quote Lance from his blog of April 2006, “We have to be careful not to drop any ripe bananas because as soon as they hit the ground, they start growing so fast that you will find yourself 10 ft in the air on top of a fully grown banana tree!” I find the only place this doesn’t apply is when I try to plant something. For example, my tomato plants won’t get flowers, my corn stay midgets, or I look up and find that mysteriously my Smelling Leaf bush has dried up (guess who forgot to water it)! At least the trees aren’t under my administrative care and they can readily survive and thrive, especially during the rainy season. I just want to give you a glimpse of some of these trees. Problem is, I don’t know what most of them are called, and of course no one has any idea what the name of whatever tree I ask about, is. Does a tree need a name? Not in Africa, it seems!!
First I have to mention the Mango tree; I think it is one of the most beautiful ones. If they have enough room around them to spread, these trees grow very large and seem to keep a round proportion. April- May is mango season in Africa. I tell you Brian and I had our share. There are about 6 mango trees in Palmgrove and we checked them almost every day. Brian climbed up to shake the limbs, and we ate as much of the luscious fruit as we wanted! Here is a picture of a mango tree suffering from rather severe erosion. This puts a whole new meaning to the term “standing under the tree.”
I don’t know what this tree is called, but it definitely has to be mentioned that it is a classic tree of Africa, as in, whenever there are pictures of African scenery, this tree is involved, silhouetted beside a giraffe perhaps. Here is the same tree, only the branches haven’t been pruned. This tree maintains a bit of a cool shade even when it is punishingly hot. There are always people grouped beneath its spread of branches, motorbikes clustered around the trunk like chicks around mother hen, or children playing lustily. When it rains (not too hard), the branches offer shelter from getting wet.
This is a random coniferous tree which I also don’t know the name of. These trees seem out of their element a bit in that I’ve never seem them look very nice. They seem straggly. Maybe they were better meant for colder Canadian temperatures. I was just surprised to see a coniferous tree among all the broad leafed local ones.
This tree, some people tell me, is called a Christmas tree. Like I say, it depends on who you ask; everyone has a different name. I have seen this tree lined stately beside rich houses in town, or beside hotels. This one is in the parking lot of Amity Hotel in Uyo. They can look quite nice if they are of even height. Also, here is Brian posing beside a cactus we found growing beside this fancy wall. I’ve seen a few cacti; they all seem to grow very big. Here is a strange yet beautiful tree we found growing in the jungle when we went for a stroll. No names, sorry!
This plant-thingy is a vine actually; I had to include it in this blog because it is quite an interesting little… thing, for lack of a better name. The vine grows up around trees and hangs full of these growths. I picked one and peeled off the dried shell and found this meshy thing inside! Zeke told me they use this for scrubbing pots and pans, and the funny part is, it’s perfect for that! It’s almost like going to the store and buying one of the milder Kurly Kates! Of all things, ‘stochl-hor’ growing on vines!