Showing posts from February, 2020

Not a Pine, Not a Palm, but Good with Rice

Pandanus amaryllifolius, sometimes called Pandan is a shrub or small tree in the Pandanaceae, or Screw-Pine family. Neither pines nor palms, pandans are widespread across subtropical and tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, and Pacific islands. A number of species provide fiber or edible fruit. The species amaryllifolius, originating as a result of human selection, is used in many Asian countries as a flavoring or wrap when cooking chicken, rice, or deserts.
Pandan has a sweet fragrance, mildly nutty and perfumey, yet also reminiscent of whitebread. It can make plain rice smell like the more expensive basmati variety. The leaves are also used in the making of perfumes and traditional medicines. 

Spectacular Bark, Medicinal Tree

 Calycophyllum spruceanum, a species with a number of common names, is a large tree found in the Amazon basin region of Brasil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia. It grows in primary lowland rainforest as well as areas of secondary forest that are subject to seasonal flooding when rivers overflow in the rainy season. Calycophyllum is a member of the Coffee Family, Rubiaceae. In habitat, it is logged for its moderately strong wood.
Its colorful pealing bark, used in traditional medicine, contains compounds associated with antiseptic and anti-aging properties. The tree has a striking and graceful appearance, and is occasionally planted as a landscape ornamental in its native countries. Popular names for the species, such as Capirona Negra and Mulateiro reflect its distinctive, dark red, orange, golden, or chocolate-brown bark color. It’s thought that the bark undergoes color changes and sloughs off to rid the tree of potential pests and epiphytes. Perhaps the high concentrations of …

Palms that Branch

Palms are not usually considered branching plants, although individuals occasionally develop crowns due to injury or disease. Most species that branch do so at the base of the original stem. A few species exhibit aerial branching, growing multiple crowns from a single trunk. Genera may include species that branch basally, aerially, or both. The genera Hyphaene, Nannorrhops, and Nypa include palms that display this atypical growth form. Hyphaene is a genus of approximately ten species widely distributed across Africa, coastal Arabia, and the west coast of India. Some species of Hyphaene develop multiple trunks that are considered basal branches; others branch more conventionally.  Hyphaene thebaica, Doum Palm, is the branching palm depicted in classic views of Egyptian life along the Nile. Hyphaene dichotoma is an Indian species that is threatened with habitat loss. Where they naturally occur, Hyphaene are used for thatch, timber, fuel, and to make palm wine. Nannorrhops ritchiana, Mazari…

Two Beautiful Trees

 Two flowering trees that are relatively unknown to American gardeners are the Golden Penda, Xanthostemon chrycanthus, and the Golden Bouquet Tree, Deplanchea tetraphylla. These Australian natives come from tropical Queensland and can be grown in South Florida and Hawaii. In South Florida, at least, many other Australian plants that are popular in Hawaii and California are impossible to grow due to soil type or heavy summer rainfall coupled with heat and high humidity. Golden Penda grows in primary and secondary rainforest. Sometimes a fairly large tree in habitat, it seldom grows larger than 40 feet in cultivation. It’s thought that sudden drops in temperature, however slight, can initiate flowering. Well grown garden and street plantings tend to frequently bloom, making the species quite desirable for display. Many creatures are attracted to the flowers, including insects, nectar-feeding birds and marsupials. Golden Bouquet grows in coastal forests and at the edge of rainf…

Ball Moss, Bunch Moss, No Moss

Tillandsia recurvata, Ball Moss or Bunch Moss, is widely distributed and common in the Southeastern U.S. It’s not a moss, but a small bromeliad species that grows epiphytically as an “air plant” on trees, shrubs, and other suitable surfaces in clusters. It sometimes forms large colonies and can give trees a furry appearance. A frequent misperception is that the plants parasitize their hosts. What Ball Moss gets from the relationship is a suitable attachment surface in a good growing environment of light, moisture, and rain-borne nutrients from the support trees. Like many other Tillandsias, Ball Moss leaves are covered with silvery-grey hairs known as trichomes that absorb water and nutrients; their roots are only used as holdfasts.

Ball Moss is an adaptable species that has a broad distribution throughout the Americas, from South Carolina to New Mexico south to Northern Argentina and Chile. Of course it has particular requirements for sunlight and rain, especially when germinating …