This winter I’m noticing things I’ve never seen before. As I drive down a certain Auckland street, I see that the melia trees are in full berry. They are like lots of little suns, all over the trees, and they seem to light up the whole street on gloomy winter days.
I didn’t even know this tree until I started watching one in my driveway, as it grew into leafing in the spring and then became bare at the end of autumn. The appearance of the tiny golden berries was a surprise.

 It’s a native of India, South East Asia and Australia, and has many other names, including white cedar, chinaberry, umbrella tree, and Pride of India.

Like the titoki berries, these little suns contain a secret. Inside each is a 5-grooved seed. The seeds have traditionally been used for rosary beads.
Of course, as soon as I read this, I wanted to see one. I was able to find three berries on the ground under the melia tree in my driveway, and uncovered the hard little seed in two of them, which I’ve photographed next to the berry itself. As you can see, the surfaces are perfect for the fingers to grip as the rosary is worked.

What treasures there are in nature, always awaiting discovery. This winter is yielding many secrets.