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Showing posts from August, 2019

Bananaquits in our Gardens

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Recently, a pair of modestly colored, unusual birds have moved into the entrance area at Pinecrest Gardens. Occasionally found in South Florida, they most likely have flown here from the Bahamas. They are quite noticeable, actively flitting from shrub to signpost to roofline to trees. Their frequent singing is loud and pleasant; we hope that they stay and perhaps nest here.
The Bananquit, Coereba flaveola, is a small bird of the New World tropics. The species belongs to the large avian group known as perching birds, a taxonomic order that includes many of the best known and liked songbirds, including their close relatives, the Tanagers. Bananaquits are small and mostly grey, with white or bright yellow breasts and white-striped heads. They are inhabit a wide geographical range that includes much of the South American tropics and subtropics east of the Andes Mountains, parts of Central America and Mexico, and Caribbean and Antillean islands. They live in diverse habitats, including op…

Olive Trees in South Florida! Hold On, You’re Getting Excited for the Wrong Reason

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Talk of olive trees in South Florida and people tend to think of the Black Olive, Terminalia buceras, a tree in the family Combretaceae, the White Mangrove family. Naturally found in the Caribbean, Central America, and Northern South America, there is some public confusion over its identity as the cultivated edible olive species. It ain’t. It’s doubtlessly called Black Olive due to the similiarity in the appearance and staining properties of the ripe fruit.
To see a real olive tree, visit Pinecrest Gardens, where a 125 year old specimen has been planted in one of the dry garden areas. With its silvery leaves and thick, gnarled trunk, it looks just like the individuals that one might encounter on a Greek island, the Andalusian countryside, or a Lebanese mountain. The Common Olive, or just plain Olive, Olea europaea var. europaea, is a tree that originated in the Mediterranean Basin region. It’s one of many members of the family Oleaceae, the Olive family, but the only species that is wid…

Ah, the Romance, the Exoticism, the Colonialism, the Breadfruit!

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Breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis, is a strictly tropical-growing tree in the same family that includes figs, mulberries, and Jackfruit, the Moraceae. It’s a fairly large, big-leaved tree that bears a starchy edible fruit. Originating in New Guinea and the Philippines, its wild ancestor was spread throughout the Pacific during the times of the great Austronesian and Polynesian ocean voyages, starting 3000 years ago. Breadnut, Artocarpus camansi, is still cultivated, especially in New Guinea for its edible seeds. The domesticated breadfruit is mostly seedless. The unripe fruit is eaten after being boiled, baked, roasted, or fried. It tastes somewhat like potato or bread. It's quite popular across Polynesia and many countries around the world where it is cultivated.  Breadfruit is also an example of botanical imperialism, as depicted in Mutiny on the Bounty. Young plants were transported by the British to the New World, providing an easily grown, calorie rich food for slaves working on …