It’s been about 15 years since I started noticing a very beautiful but unfamiliar tree that appeared here and there in the neighborhood. It had yellow flowers, and looked like a lot of other trees around town, but it was when the fruit materialized that it attracted my attention. At first, I thought they were some strange flower that I hadn’t yet seen. But as I approached and tried to get to know them, I realized they weren’t flowers but seed pods, unusual and very attractive.
I asked around and a friend told me their name, Koelreuteria bipinnata. Now that’s a hard name to remember, and it didn’t sound like a Hebrew name at all, so I kept asking whenever I was in the company of someone who knew some botany, when seeing those trees. I heard a few names… someone told me that the beautiful pinkish pods were called ‘two feathers’ in some language. And I could imagine the two leaves as feathers composing the pod… but I didn’t hear a name I could actually relate to and remember till just last week. That was when I finally heard that they were called the Chinese lantern tree in Hebrew. And that worked for me. They did look like Chinese lanterns. And moreover, the tree comes from China.
A week ago, Chana and I visited the archaeological garden not far from my home. Chana was eager to see some hyraxes since I talk about them frequently, and we had previously gone to the promenade in my neighborhood where I usually meet with them. But they were shy. A man with a dog (friendly, and on a leash) was there when we arrived, and hyraxes don’t like dogs at all. We did see one of the hyrax watchmen, but didn’t see them at play or grazing on the lawn. I thought we might have better luck at the archaeological garden, because as lovely as it is, it doesn’t seem to attract many visitors.
When we got there at first, I didn’t see any hyraxes, and apologized for our poor luck. But I did find a few Chinese lantern trees, and we both photographed them. It was something I wanted to share with you, after finally discovering their name. And once I had the Hebrew name, it was relatively easy to find their name in English. They are called Chinese Flame Trees. It was after shooting some of the trees, and a shot of the pods up close, that we suddenly noticed a group of hyrax puppies playing among the bushes and trees in a hard to access rocky area of the park.