This Week’s Special

August 14, through August 28th, 2016

3 gal. 4′ tall Jaboticaba Trees (Myrciaria cauliflora) on sale for $25.00.











We have Jackfruit and Longans

Jackfruit on the tree

Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit) on the tree.

I know some of you have been waiting since last season ended. The wait is finally over. The jackfruit is back, and we have a beautiful fruit this year.

If you aren’t familiar with jackfruit, this is a tropical treasure. It has a unique flavor somewhere between banana and pineapple mixed with other tropical notes of flavor. The spiny fruits are spectacular in size and can get upwards of 70 pounds.

For a really unique experience, come by our nursery in Miami today and buy some jackfruit for a taste of this Asian treasure.

Longan Fruit is also still available at the nursery.

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

No less a publication than Southern Living magazine has long recommended our native Firebush, Hamelia patens, to its readership. And it’s no wonder. The species has many endearing qualities.

First, if not foremost, it’s rather cold-tolerant. The Florida Native Plant Society regards it as suitable for planting through Zone 9a, whose northern limit is along a line from the Georgia border at the Atlantic coast to roughly Panama City at the Gulf Coast. However, Firebush can survive in the ground well north of there. It will freeze back in the winter, but regrow from the roots in the spring, particularly if mulched with fallen leaves. North of Zone 9a, the species is quite popular as a fast-growing, colorful annual.

H. patens is also remarkably amenable to various soil types, from the alkaline rockland of southern Florida to the deep acidic soils of the temperate South. It flowers best in full sun, but performs well even in some shade. The species is reasonably drought-tolerant, but can handle plenty of water, so long as good drainage is guaranteed.  Once established, maintenance is quite easy; cutting it back periodically will promote compactness and encourage blooming. And it doesn’t even require much fertilizer!

Firebush has a huge native range, from north central Florida and Bermuda in the north through the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and into Paraguay in the south. In southern Florida it is a semi-woody evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches about 12 ft. high. Its leaves are oval to elliptical, up to 6 in. long, featuring reddish veins and leafstems. It produces clusters of ¾-in. red-orange or scarlet tubular flowers throughout the year. Its berries are also attractive, developing through a range of colors from green to yellow to red to glossy black.

In the ground, Hamelia can be used as a solid hedge or can be mixed with other materials, but it can also be featured to great advantage as a stand-alone specimen. It is quite popular in hummingbird and butterfly gardens. In colder locations that experience a distinct winter, Firebush makes an outstanding container plant that can be brought indoors and kept in a bright location until the return of warm weather.

H. patens also possesses some medicinal qualities. Indigenous peoples found that stem and leaf extracts could be used to ameliorate dermatological problems, including sores, rashes and fungus. Those ethnobotanical applications have been bolstered by modern studies that isolated chemicals possessing antibacterial and antifungal properties. Other Firebush extracts have been shown in animal studies to contain hypothermic, analgesic and diuretic qualities.

H. patens is available at the nursery in 3-gal. containers.

Hamelia patens (Firebush)

Hamelia patens (Firebush)

Hamelia patens (Firebush)

Phoebis sennae on Hamelia patens (Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly on Firebush)

Hamelia patens (Firebush)

Heliconius charitonius on Hamelia patens (Zebra Longwing Butterfly on Firebush)

Some New Insights About the Paleo Diet

Here’s another in the series of interesting newsletters that Richard Lyons’ Nursery receives from Brooks Tropicals.

What’s written about paleo diets often emphasizes eating meat, but the diet is more about enjoying food that isn’t highly processed.

Slice and enjoy –  dragonfruit


Tropical fruits need little or no preparation to be enjoyed and to be a highlight of the meal.

Dragonfruit’s a great example. Here are 6 ways to enjoy it. No recipe required.

Tropical fruit platter

Now’s a great time of the year to explore adding tropical fruits to your menus.

We’re at season’s peak for many Florida-grown fruits: SlimCado avocado, starfruit, red guava, dragonfruit and passionfruit – to name a few.

Don’t forget the meat!

Caribbean Red papaya meat topper

For the meat on the paleo diet menu, this papaya recipe plays a triple role:
– tenderizer
– marinade
– topping

Caribbean Red papayas have a digestive enzyme in them that not only helps you digest food, but can also help tenderize meat. The same marinade also makes a great topping for steak hot off the grill.

Why wait for the stars to come out
Starfruit salsa

Enjoy a Florida starfruit salsa instead. Just chop and toss – for when the early evening’s breeze calls you out to the deck.

Remember! Save a star-shaped slice to top the dish.

Red guava sightings
Pastry shells not required

Apples and cherries move over – there’s a new sweet fruit on this fast food chain’s breakfast menu.

Like apples and cherries, pastry shells aren’t needed to enjoy red guava.

Munchable, lunchable red guava

Unlike those fruits, red guava comes with a fantastic aroma. The fragrance can pull you into your kitchen, even after a long day at work.

Buy one more guava than you need for a recipe. It’ll be the one you munch on while you make dinner.

The bounty of the tropics

Main dish or side, tropicals

Caribbean tuna and avocado stuffed peppers

Coconut and star-topped mojito salad

Tropically stuffed guava salad
Tropical fajita

Chunky tropical sandwich
Tropical crumble cake
For more info …

Yours in the tropics,
Mary Ostlund
Brooks logo

18400 SW 256 St
Homestead, FL 33090


The Stoppers (Myrtaceae)

This week we take a look at a very interesting group of Florida native plants known collectively as stoppers. All stoppers are members of the Myrtaceae, an enormous family that also includes the genus Eucalyptus. Some grow as shrubs and some as trees. Each of the five described below not only has ornamental value, but also has proven to be pretty irresistible to wildlife.

The Redberry Stopper (Eugenia confusa) is a rare, very slow-growing small to medium-sized tree that seldom reaches much more than 25 ft. In Florida, it occurs in Martin, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. In the islands, it is native to the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles, including Puerto Rico, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad. The crown is fairly narrow and bears small, stiff, glossy evergreen leaves about 1-2 in. long with pointed tips. The tree produces clusters of white flowers year-round, but more heavily during spring and summer. Not surprisingly, the fruit is a red berry, and it attracts birds. The tree also provides food and cover to other wildlife.

E. confusa prefers most, well-drained soils, whether limestone or sand, but can tolerate brief periods of drought once established. While not demanding of rich soils where native, this species responds well to good nutrition in cultivation. Although the tree is found in coastal hammocks, it will not tolerate constant exposure to salt breeze or long-lasting inundation by salty or brackish water. This species should be grown in full sun to light shade.

The Redberry Stopper is considered by the State of Florida to be endangered.

Red Stopper (Eugenia rhombea), like the Redberry Stopper, has a narrow, rounded crown, but is of a smaller stature, generally maturing in the 8-12 ft. range, but occasionally reaching 15 ft. This species works well in buffer plantings or as a stand-alone small tree or accent shrub. Leaves of the Red Stopper are dark green and 1-2 in. long. The ‘red’ in the common name refers to the color of new foliage.

Historically, E. rhombea ranges from Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties in Florida into Mexico, Central America and northern South America. However, it is no longer found natively in mainland Miami-Dade County and only rarely encountered in Monroe County. The Institute for Regional Conservation considers the species critically imperiled in southern Florida.

Red Stopper bears white flowers year-round, peaking during the hot months. The fruit of this species is orange-black, maturing to black, and is eaten by birds. The plant also provides food and cover to other wildlife. Soil, water and nutritional needs, as well as salt tolerance, match those of E. confusa.  E. rhombea is best grown in light shade.

The White Stopper (Eugenia axillaris), perhaps because of its large range, is fortunately still common in the wild. It is  found natively from Volusia and Levy Counties, far upstate, skipping northeast to Bermuda, extending south through the Florida Keys and into the West Indies, Mexico and Central America. Maturing to 8-15 ft. in the northerly end of its range, but 25+ ft. in southern Florida, it has long been popular for ornamental use as a large shrub or small tree.

New leaves of E. axillaris are a pinkish-red color before maturing to a dull, dark green on the upper surface and pale on the lower surface, with many tiny black dots. Some observers say that the leaves emit an unpleasant odor, while others do not. This species produces white flowers all year long, but most heavily during the spring and summer; they are followed by reddish or black fruit that provides a significant food source for wildlife.

This species is probably more demanding of good nutrition than the other stoppers. Like them, however, it should not regularly be exposed to salt breezes or salty or brackish water. It can tolerate short periods of drought once established. The White Stopper is best grown in full sun to light shade.

Simpson’s Stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans) commemorates Charles Torrey Simpson, botanist, conservationist and Sage of Biscayne Bay, for whom Simpson Park just south of downtown Miami is also named. Its species name refers to the sweet aroma of the flowers, but the leaves also produce an aromatic smell when crushed. This stopper grows as a large shrub or small to medium-sized tree with reddish peeling bark. It usually matures in the 10-20 ft. range, but 50 ft. is not unheard of in southern Florida. The growth rate is slow to moderate.

M. fragrans is native from Lee, Okeechobee and St. Johns Counties southward through the Keys and into the West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America. Leaves are 1-2 1/2 in. long and semi-glossy on the upper surface. Dots on the leaf surfaces contain the aromatic substances which are released when the leaves are crushed. Simpson’s Stopper produces clusters of white flowers year-round, but most heavily during the spring and summer. The flowers are followed by orange to red globose berries that provide a food source to a variety of wildlife.

This species is native to moist, well-drained limestone or sandy soils. Like the other stoppers, it does not like long exposures to salt air or salty or brackish water. Drought tolerance is moderate once a plant is established in a new site. For best results, grow Simpson’s Stopper in full sun to light shade.

The State of Florida lists this species as threated.

Spanish Stopper (Eugenia foetida) differs from the species discussed above in that it regularly produces multiple thin, erect stems. The bark of those reddish-brown stems is smooth when young, then develops concentric rings as it ages. Atop the stems is a dense, rounded crown bearing leathery leaves 3/4 to 1 1/2 in. long. The species name is derived from the fact that crushed leaves may emit an unpleasant scent. As a tall shrub or small to medium-size tree, E. foetida generally matures to 8-15 ft. It makes an excellent buffer or accent planting.

Spanish Stopper ranges from Brevard and Manatee Counties down along the east coast of Florida through the Keys and into the West Indies, Mexico and Central America. Fortunately, it is still fairly common throughout its range.

Like E. axillaris, the Spanish Stopper is more demanding nutritionally than most stoppers. However, its soil and water requirements are similar to those of the other species reviewed here. While its saltwater tolerance is low, it can endure salt breezes remarkably well. The growth rate of this species is slow to moderate.

This species produces clusters of white flowers throughout the year, but particularly during the summer. They are followed by brown to black berries which attract a variety of animals. Spanish Stopper also provides a significant source of cover for wildlife.

In summary, all five of the Florida stoppers make wonderful additions to the residential landscape, and as slow to moderate growers, they will never become out of scale to even the smallest of yards.  They are available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 3 gal. containers.

By the way, were you wondering why these species are called stoppers? Stories have come and gone over the years, but the most accurate appears to be that tribes made a tea out of the leaves of these species, particularly White Stopper, to stop diarrhea. Suffice it to say that nowadays you probably just want to concentrate on the ornamental appeal of these plants.

A Ficus You’ll Love to Have Around

In our part of the world, the genus Ficus has gotten a rather mixed reputation, primarily because some of its species have aggressive root systems than can raise sidewalks, crack foundations and clog underground pipes. Fortunately, not all of the 800 or so Ficus species pose such risks. One that is especially useful in the landscape of southern Florida is Ficus microcarpa ‘Green Island’, a very attractive shrub that grows slowly and benignly here. It is known for its friendly roots. Its glossy green leaves have lots of ornamental appeal, and it neither requires frequent watering nor is particular about soil type. Left alone, it will reach 8 ft. in height, but with periodic shearing it can be maintained as a nice ground cover. Green Island Ficus is even capable of being grown as a house plant or as a Bonsai specimen.

Green Island Ficus has been a hit since its introduction to our area. In 2001 it was chosen Plant of  the Year by the FNGLA (Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association). Its toughness is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that it can be incorporated successfully into roadway medians, where many other species succumb to vehicular exhausts.

Please drop by the nursery and evaluate the Green Island Ficus first-hand. We have them in 3-, 7-, and 15-gallon containers.

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus 6-7′ unpruned hedge)

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus 4′ pruned hedge)

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus 6-12″ groundcover)

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus bonsai)