Monday, 21 April 2014

Holy trees

On my way home this afternoon, I noticed the Painted Lady butterflies have left and their Lantana host shrubs  are now covered in white fluff with brown seed pods.   I veered to the left, aiming for the shady side of the mosque, no pun intended.   The sun is now quite hot and I shielded my face with my headscarf.   Through the black haze, I suddenly noticed patches of yellow against the bright blue sky.   Unceremoniously, I dropped  my handbag, took out my phone, and starting shooting!

The boeing overhead was my sign to go home.   It only took about 5 minutes, but when I got inside my flat, my face was burnt.    This sun is not to be taken lightly, I gathered...

I waited until it was much later and cooler, then went back to pick some flowers & leaves for identification.

The Divine Tree

Indian Tulip Tree (Thespesia Populnea/भेंडी, पारस-पिंपळ) is a marvellous tree which is considered sacred in many countries. It is planted near temples & churches. Its name is derived from a Greek word thespesios which means 'divine'.

The beautiful tree has glossy green, heart-shaped leaves & yellow hibiscus-type flowers which bloom year round. It is interesting to know that these yellow flowers turn dark red, purple or pink as the day progresses. Thus the flower lasts for couple of days. In Tamil, the tree is known as Poovarasu which means 'King of Flowers'..apt name for such a lovely tree! The tree establishes well & grows rapidly. Its branches are closely set & form a dense crown, hence it is also known as Umbrella  tree.

Instead of being only a very good ornamental tree, it has a wide range of uses too! And these vary from use in dune stabilization or for medicine to the use as organic mulch. It is a tough tree which can survive the poor drainage & hot, dry conditions common to urban areas.

Indian Tulip Tree is an excellent species for coastal protection as it tolerates droughty sandy soils, brackish water, occasional water-logging, wind & salt spray. It also provides abundant leaf litter for use as mulch in sandy, coastal sites. The tree firmly anchors sandy soils & protects them from erosion. Hence being a soil improver & stabilizer and a excellent windbreak, it is also used as living fences.

Its bark produces a strong fibre which is used for ropes, cordage, fishing lines, coffee bags etc. The flowers & its capsule are said to give a yellow dye & the bark produces tannin.

Indian Tulip has been used in many ways in traditional medicines in India. According to Ayurveda, Indian Tulip is astringent, acrid, cooling and is shown to be useful in skin related troubles, leprosy, diseases of blood & urinary system, diarrhoea, dysentry, cholera, diabetes, ascites etc.

Indian Tulip is a relatively easy tree to grow. It propagates easily from seed or from cuttings.

The Indian Tulip is occasionally confused with Sea Hibiscus (Hibiscus Tiliaceus/बेलिपता) due to similar heart-shaped leaves, yellow flowers. Both these trees are, interestingly & shockingly, more or less similar in their uses also. Of course, there are differences in medical properties. But for other aspects, both of the trees can be called as replica of one another.

Sea Hibiscus tree is reputed to be a good forage plant for bees & the time to first flowering is typically 2–3 years of age. Sea Hibiscus has a noted ability to improve soil in organic matter & fertility, most likely through leaf drop & decomposition, which occurs at a moderately fast rate.

The desert is full of surprises!

Friday, 4 April 2014

vir Janie

“Twee blommetjies vir Mamma 
want sy kook my kos. 
Nog twee blommetjies vir Mamma, 
sy maak nare knope los. 
Twee blommetjies vir Mamma 
want sy sing vir my. 
Nog twee blommetjies vir Mamma, 
sy sit pleisters op ‘n sny. 
Twee blommetjies vir Mamma 
want sy luister as ek kla. 
Al die blommetjies vir Mamma. 
Sy is die mooiste, beste Ma” 
-Alba Bouwer- 

Hierdie blou blommetjies groei orals in die wereld, selfs hier in die woestyn in Riyadh.   Die eerste keer wat ek hulle gesien het, is toe die 4jarige Janie hulle in die veld in die Vrystaat vir my gepluk het.   En met uitgestrekte handjies hierdie gediggie aangehaal het.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Osso Buco

Veal from Pakistan
Mint & Coriander and Aubergines from Saudi Arabia
Sweet Peppers from Morocco
Rosemary from "my garden"
Goya Corn Meal from Spain

The result is an Italian classic that melts in the mouth, and it really is very easy to make.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

While I was walking in Petra, Jordan, last weekend, 
I had flashbacks of another awesome (in the true sense of the word) place.
A place which nestles high in mountains made of solid marble.
Where a shrine with crystal-clear pure water commemorates the men who lost their lives building the dangerous roads, blasting their way through high gorges and treacherous mountains, prone to earthquakes, mudslides and floods.

The name Taroko means "magnificent and beautiful" in the Truku language of the Truku indigenous tribe. Long ago a Truku tribesman saw the beauty of the azure Pacific when he walked out of the gorge. On seeing the magnificent scene, he cried "Taroko!". And so it became the name of the place, in a fashion not dissimilar to how the island, Formosa, got its name.
The gorge itself was carved into the marble by the erosive power of the Liwu River. 
The force behind the steep valleys and narrow canyons is a (geologically speaking) relatively fast rate of uplift combined with ample water. Over the last 70 million years, these two forces collaborated to form the world's deepest marble canyon. The slot canyons here are remarkable with narrows sections a thousand feet high and only a dozen yards apart.

The Jade found in these mountains is the only Jade in Taiwan, and I bought a beautiful Jade pendant which is not green, but purple!   The sweet potatoes that grow in the area are also a luminous purple.   


The roar of the mighty river can be heard for many miles, but where it collects in pools it becomes quiet and the most beautiful turquoise colour imaginable.

The Bridge of Motherly Devotion, with its shrine.   The bridge is made entirely of marble.

Treacherous roads.

My mother on The Bridge of Motherly Devotion - dedicated to the sons who lost their lives during the construction of the pass.

The Shrine.  You do not want to be there during a land slide.

Follow by Email


The Alchemy of Desire Tarun J Tejpal

The Language of Flowers Vanessa Diffenbaugh