|large cross on the hillside, Bras des Calumets|
At 1100-1200m we were actually a little higher than the main village, as we were in a hamlet called Bras des Calumets (which is actually not far from the start of my recent Piton Texor hike).
|tree fern frond|
The house we stayed in is surrounded by over 4500 m2 of land which is covered by lots of fruit trees and also some tea bushes.
|tea flower (camellia sinensis)|
Although I've had the chance to see tea cultivation in many parts of the world*, and have occasionally seen tea flowers, this was the first time I'd seen the seed pod of the tea bush.
|the distinctively shaped tea seed pod|
There was a period during its history when Reunion grew tea (1729-1960s), and occasionally small plantations can still be found dotted around the island, but I believe a combination of factors (cyclones and lack of profitability) put paid to it as a viable option for the island's agricultural future.
There were a great many goyavier (strawberry guava) bushes as well, some of them obviously planted by the previous owners to make an orchard. It didn't take long to fill a pail to the brim with juicy red fruit.
|Goyavier bush (strawberry guava; psidium cattleianum)|
There were also some of the rarer lemon guava (goyavier blanc), not to be confused with the larger common guava.
|lemon guava (psidium littorale var. littorale)|
There were also many citrus trees - lemons and mandarin oranges. They prefer these higher altitudes to the coast.
There were quite a few ginger lilies, but as this is not their season they were not flowering (see here for pictures of them flowering).
|out-of-season Ginger lilies (hedychium gardnerianum)|
Lots of brightly-coloured Torch lilies also grow in profusion in the garden.
|Torch lilies (Kniphofia)|
Usnea lichen grows well at this altitude too. It's very sensitive to air pollution, and under bad conditions it may grow no more than a few millimetres, if at all. Where the air is unpolluted, it can grow very long, like in the photo.
|long strands of Usnea lichen|
|Hydrangea (aka hortensia)|
I've always been fascinated by the water-repellent leaves of the taro plants (see here for a better photo of this 'lotus effect'). Our friends have planted several in their kitchen garden. A Reunion Creole proverb says "Comme (goutte d') eau sur feuille de songe", literally "like (a drop) of water on a taro leaf", meaning "it doesn't bother me".
|Taro (colocasia esculenta)|
|slug on toadstool|
Plaine des Palmistes on Runweb.com
Plaine des Palmistes on Lonely Planet's website.
Plaine des Palmistes in the Michelin guide.