Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tree Profile: Delonix Regia

Delonix Regia: a common ornamental tree south of Addis Ababa

I first took notice of this tree on a work trip to Ziway, about a 3-hour bus ride from Addis Ababa. I asked several people what this tree was called but the only answer I got was “ababa zaf”, which translates to ‘flower tree’, a description used for many brightly flowered trees within Ethiopia.

Flowers of Delonix Regia

After flipping through the book, Useful Trees and Shrubs of Ethiopia, by Azane Bekele-Tesemma, I found that I was looking at Delonix regia, a native tree to Madagascar. It’s likely that Delonix regia, which is more commonly known as ‘flamboyant’ (English) or ‘Dire Dawa zaf’ (Amharic), could grow well near you if you reside in the lowland tropics, have sandy soil, and are between 200 and 1,600 meters.

Delonix regia can be seen in many cities within Ethiopia. South of Addis Ababa it is associated with the city of Dire Dawa and its surrounding areas. As for uses, Delonix regia lends itself to bee forage, beautifying cities along avenues, shade, and jewelry (seeds).

An Addis (new) Life

Amidst a Timket Celebration in Addis Ababa

I have been living in Addis Ababa since I signed up to extend another year as a Peace Crops volunteer in Ethiopia (till Dec ’12 or Jan ’13 –it’s up in the air at the moment). Life is very different now when I compare it to my rural city life in Sibboo (662km west of Addis on the Gambella Road), where I used to serve.

In Addis things are different. There are many amenities and many more cars. Work is more, too, and water and electricity have become everyday expectations. Smells are strong and dust and pollution clogs the nose quickly. People walk faster and seem less interested in the presence of an obvious foreigner. Eating out is more expensive but any import can be had in Addis and at the cheapest cost available in country.

The more I think about it, I don’t think the rural areas in Ethiopia can be easily compared to this giant city. It’s too different. Where do you start? Name an aspect of rural living and you will find that aspect altered (cost of food) or absent (clean air) here in Addis.

So my blog, along with my life and service, enters another phase, which is to say that now I will be living in Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital city - so we can expect my blog entries to gain an Addis tint to them (such as more blog entries).

Things to come: more photos, tree profiles (my work is in agroforestry so it was bound to happen), and more reflection on life/culture/purpose.

This blog continues to serve no one in particular BUT aims to be something entertaining WHILE offering me a place to openly reflect on things encountered and experienced during my time in Ethiopia. Enjoy it if you can!