Ink sketch and watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm – Kei Apple tree and a Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleonidae – (Chameleo dilepis)
The Kei-apple, Dovyalis caffra, is well known all over the eastern parts South Africa, common in open bush and wooded grassland, and often near termite mounds. It is a thick, shiny, spiny shrub up to three metres in height. The branches are armed with straight, robust spines up to 7 cm long. Fresh, ripe fruits are rich in Vitamin C and pectin and, following the example of the Pedi people who squeeze the juice onto their pap (porridge), they make an excellent addition to a fruit salad and to muesli and yoghurt. Nature seems to know best when to give us the right foods to boost our immune systems in preparation for the onslaught of winter colds and ‘flu.
Last year my trees also bore an abundance of fruit for the first time ever and I ascribe this to the fact that we get heavy frost here in Tarlton (South Africa). It has taken almost seven years for my trees to reach just over three meters tall and I was absolutely thrilled to have the fruit. Of course I had to try them but they really are too acidic, with a slight hint of sweetness, to enjoy on a full-time basis. And I’m therefore also not surprised at all that Torti, my Leopard Tortoise, did not touch any that had fallen on the floor. But they look really beautiful displayed in a dish!
And the Chameleon didn't seem to have any problem with the huge thorns! I was really thrilled to see him in my garden as these lovely creatures seem to be getting scarcer and scarcer.