September in Qorokwe and the sausage tree is flavor of the month. Standing out against the drab dry season land, its new spring leaves are so green it hurts to look at them. ‘Come closer’, it says. And so you do. And there, tucked beneath the canopy is a hanging garden of crimson flowers.
You’re not the only passer-by this kigelia has seduced. Vervet monkeys clamber through its branches, grabbing the flowers and licking the sweet nectar. Young baboons stick their whole faces into the cup-shaped blossoms, and emerge with yellow pollen dust on their noses. At ground level, impalas and kudus are politely standing-by to vacuum up flowers raining from above. When the primates move on, a squirrel takes over the supply side, but he’s not up to the task and the antelope soon wander off.
Now here comes a leopard, looking for a break from the incessant whistles and alarm snorts that trail her. The canopy conceals her as she straddles a sturdy branch and falls asleep. Ah, peace at last… Until dusk falls and the epauletted fruit bats arrive with a shrill ping ping and get to work on pollinating the flowers.
Over the weeks, thin sausage-shaped fruits will replace the blossoms, maturing at different rates so that there’s a complete deli range of sausages: from tiny cocktail, to foot-long salami, to hefty 5kg rolls of polony. These eventually fall to the ground to be chewed on by baboons. At this time, inviting as it looks, the sausage tree’s alluring shade becomes a dodgy prospect. Unless you’re wearing a hard-hat.
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