Spring Makes a Big-Time Entrance

Today may be the official first day of spring, but, in truth, the season popped out early this year, and in no small way. Plants that have lain dormant during the winter months have begun to push new leaves. We’ve even seeing new weeds which weren’t here during the winter. (Who says there’s no winter in southern Florida? Just because we don’t have snow….) Both the white and blue forms of Queen’s Wreath (Petrea volubilis) have been putting on a spectacular show the last few weeks. On the other hand, vegetable crops are coming to an end, but we still have kohlrabi, celery, Malabar spinach, and Swiss chard. I invite everyone to come down and walk the grounds or ride around in a golf cart and enjoy the springtime show.


Plants in Bloom Around The Nursery

The last couple of weeks have brought more normal daytime and nighttime temperatures back to South Florida, along with some substantial rainfall.  This has brought spring to the region, and with it, many plants have started to come out of their winter dormancy.  Looking around the nursery, the Cochlospermum vitifolium(Buttercup Tree), Petrea volubilis var. albiflora (White Queen’s Wreath Vine), and Tabebuia chrysotricha (Yellow Trumpet Tree) are all blooming.  We are also still harvesting vegetables which we grew this winter, such as tomatoes, kohlrabi, celery, onions, and calabaza or West Indian Pumpkin, a large winter squash (Cucurbita moschata), to name a few.  As always, visitors are welcome to visit and stroll around the 10 acre nursery to see what we have to offer.




Ready for Mangos?, Part VI

This installment concludes our survey of mango cultivars available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery. This year’s mango crop in southern Florida continues to show great potential. There has been no cold outbreak serious enough to damage either flowers or pollinators, and we are well beyond the statistical ‘dead of winter.’ March winds have started a little early, but the fruit on most trees is still too small to be blown off. Growers shouldn’t be surprised when strong winds do cause fruit drop, but this year the trees have flowered so prolifically that those inevitable losses will not diminish the yield on most trees in any meaningful way.

Rapoza This Hawaiian cultivar produces a vigorous midsize to large tree with a rounded canopy, and it holds up well in humid climates. Not only is the fruit fairly large, 14-28 oz., but the seed is small, so the fiberless, juicy flesh takes up over 85% of the capacity of the fruit. The mango is also anthracnose-resistant. Fruit ripens in July.

Rosigold Originating in Southeast Asia, Rosigold is among the earliest cultivars to ripen — from mid-March to June — and possesses fiberless, aromatic and sweet fruit that averages about 11 oz. Moreover, the tree is small, maturing at 15 ft. and capable of being maintained at 8 ft. without jeopardizing productivity.

S.T. Maui Here is another desirable Hawaiian cultivar which, like Rapoza, is well-suited to humid climates. The tree is a medium to large grower. Its roundish, attractively-colored, fiberless fruit is juicy and sweet-tasting. An admirer in southern Florida has referred to it as a ‘top tier mango’ of ‘superb’ eating quality. Ripening occurs in early summer.

San Felipe If you’re looking for a mango that grows vigorously and produces consistently, then San Felipe may be the one for you. Originating in western Cuba, this Haden-like cultivar reaches medium to large size and yields a good-looking, spicy, sweet fruit that matures in the 14-32 oz. range. Because ripening occurs early in the rainy season, this mango’s disease resistance is enhanced.

Tommy Atkins This Florida-bred cultivar, descended from Haden seeds planted in Broward County in the early 1920s, is known for its long shelf life, and it is the most widely-grown commercial mango in the New World. The tree grows to a large size and produces a very attractive, disease-resistant fruit that weighs in at just over 16 oz. on average. Ripening time is June and July.

Valencia Pride This is another in the long line of Florida cultivars developed from the Haden mango, and is one of the best-tasting of the late-season varieties. The vigorous tree can reach 50 ft., with a spreading, open canopy. It produces a strikingly-colored, S-shaped fruit noted for its aroma, smoothness and sweet taste. Mature weight is in the 21-32 oz. range, and ripening occurs from July to August.

Ready for Mangos?, Part V

Below are descriptions of even more of the mango cultivars available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery:

Mallika Great news: This cultivar, which should be picked green before breaking color, is an aro-matic, delicious, productive, disease-resistant mango that can be grown in small spaces, even on an apartment balcony. Terrible news: It is traditionally ripened in camel dung. Better news: If you hap-pen to run short of camel dung, you can ripen the fruit in a cardboard box at room temperature for 14-21 days. Weighing in at 10-18 oz., Mallika fruit matures in late June and July.

Nam Doc Mai This highly-sought Thai cultivar has been in Florida since 1973; it is considered the best of the Asian mangos. Fiberless, aromatic and very sweet, it can be grown in small yards and pruned to 10 ft. without damaging productivity. Nam Doc Mai fruit ripens in June and July and ranges in weight between 12 and 16 oz. The fruit can also be picked at a mature green state to dip in sauces or to make sweet preserves and pickles.

Naomi This was the first cultivar to be selected in the Israeli mango breeding program. Because of its origin, it should do well in hot climates, but also tolerate cooler winter conditions than normally experienced in southern Florida. Naomi grows into a medium-sized tree and produces a mildly sweet and nearly fiberless flesh. Weighing in at about 16 oz., the fruit ripens in mid-summer.

Okrung Like Nam Doc Mai, this cultivar was introduced in 1973 from Thailand, where it is com-monly consumed in combination with sticky rice. It rates very high on flavor and productivity. Mature trees are medium-sized and dense-growing. The juicy, somewhat-fibrous fruits reach about 8 oz. and ripen from June to August. The fruit can also be eaten green.

Palmer This cultivar dates back to a seed planted about 80 years ago in Miami, though it was not named until 1949. It produces a medium to large tree with an upright habit. The robust fruit, matur-ing to 20-30 oz. or more, possesses a mild, aromatic flavor with little fiber. Ripening occurs from July until early September. Because the skin of this mango often takes on a red-purple cast — or blush — far ahead of ripeness, it is very attractive, but that look sometimes leads to fruit being harvested before it’s mature.

Philippine Would you like a little uncertainty in your mango? Despite its name, this cultivar came to the US by way of Cuba. And in its homeland, it may be called Carabao instead of Philippine. This much is certain, however; the tree is a large, vigorous grower, well-adapted to the climate of south-ern Florida. The fruit — aromatic, rich, fiberless, and mildly sweet — matures in the 8-12 oz. range. Typically it ripens in the June-July time frame.

Pim Seng Mun (Phimsen Mun) A native of southeast Asia, this cultivar is particularly popular among fans of green mangos, because it features apple-like qualities — crisp, crunchy texture and pleasantly tart taste. Some aficianados add salt and Cayenne pepper to the green flesh. Allowed to ripen, the fruit is aromatic, smooth and sweet. Trees grow to a medium size, and the 8-oz. fruit ripens in June and July.