Olive Pink wrote from Thompsons Rockhole, ‘By the way Australia is supposed to have no deciduous trees! Yet I am here in the midst of Bean Trees and they are deciduous. Quite bare before “the rains” — most of them.’

Source: Olive Pink: Artist, Activist & Gardener — A Life in Flowers by Gillian Ward

The Bean Tree, also known as the Batswing Coral Tree (Erythrina vespertilio).

The term vespertilio meaning bat, which makes reference to the ‘bat shaped leaves’ found on this straggly tree.

Growing anywhere between 6 to 12 metres in height, this deciduous tree has a smooth corky grey-brown bark and thorns appearing on the trunk and branches.

Its habitat includes open forest and woodland, shrubland, rocky gorges, and arid regions of Central Australia.

Also known as the Sturt Bean Tree, this is said to be one of Miss Pink’s favourite plants, as she planted over 30 of these trees from seed she had collected from Aileron Station in the 1960s. In her diary notes she recorded names of various dignitaries against the individual trees. Although not suited to our cold winters, as this species is very frost sensitve, at least two of these named trees still survive in the garden today.


Footnote & References

  1. Erythrina vespertilio, Miss Pink’s Wildflowers, Sketches from Central Australia 1930-1960 by Olive Pink from the UTAS Archives Collection, https://www.utas.edu.au/library/exhibitions/olive_pink/botanical_paintings/Erythrina_vespertilio.html
  2. Miss Pink’s Wildflowers, Sketches from Central Australia 1930-1960 by Olive Pink from the UTAS Archives Collection – Erythrina vespertilio.