Top 10 Bird Plants

The following article covers a popular talk by Charles Botha, at the 2014 Botanical Society Coastal Branch Indigenous Plant Fair.

 

N0 10 - Halleria lucida (Tree Fuchsia) 15 bird species

This marvelous tree was already cherished in England at the time of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, but it has yet to be discovered by many South African gardeners. Sometimes jokingly referred to as “Hilarious Lucy,” Halleria lucida grows in sun or shade and can tolerate modest frost. It is mostly semi-deciduous. Although larger under forest conditions, it is usually a shrub or small tree, ideal for smaller gardens. Often multi-stemmed, with dense, drooping foliage, it can also be used as a screen.

The leaves are nibbled by the larvae of at least a dozen moth species. Orange to dark red, curved, tubular flowers hang in dense bunches on the trunk and woody branches. They are so full of nectar that some Zulu speakers refer to them as “birds’ beer.” Sunbirds, white-eyes, and weavers are among the constant stream of visitors. Next, it’s the turn of fruit-eaters, with turacos sometimes loudly leading the pack. Even thrushes, more likely to be seen pulling earthworms out of the ground, feast on fallen fruit, while other birds simply feed on the insects attracted to the bounty. On top of all these advantages, such birds as woodpeckers work their way up and down the flaky bark, looking for insects and other creatures that live there.

 

N0 9 - Strelitzia nicolai 17 bird species