This Week’s Special

From August 16, 2015 through August 30, 2015.

 

15gal. Rainbow Eucalyptus Regularly $75.00, will be $50.00 during this sale period.

Weekly specials are exempt from special coupons such as Yelp and Groupon.

 

Thank you.

 

 

World’s Largest Fruit on a Tree — and Yummy, Too!

We’ve all heard about 1,600-lb. pumpkins and 270-lb. watermelons. Those are impressive weights, and fortunately the fruits had the ground to support them as they increased in size. But do you know the largest fruit that grows on a tree?  It’s the jackfruit (or jakfruit), and not only is it big, but it’s also very tasty – and versatile. Let’s take a brief look at what makes this odd-looking food so popular around the tropics.

The jackfruit tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is native to India, but, like most plants that possess economic value, it is now cultivated in other parts of the world. A jackfruit tree in native habitat may reach 80 ft. tall, but in southern Florida, a mature height of 40 ft. is more the norm, and trees in a residential lot can be maintained, through selective pruning, at 10-12 ft. without seriously affecting fruiting. And while the tree itself can grow quite stately, it is the fruit that distinguishes it – round or oblong, rough-skinned, and, above all, HUGE. The mechanism that allows a tree to support hefty fruit is cauliflory, meaning that the fruit develops on the trunk and major branches, which are capable of bearing great weight. Some cultivars of A. heterophyllus grow fruit that ripens at 100 lbs., but others mature in the 10-25 lb. range. The fruits are known botanically as syncarps; like pineapples, raspberries, blackberries and mulberries, they consist of multiple individual flowers and their resulting fruitlets fused into a compound fruit.

In subtropical southern Florida, jackfruit has proven to be quite dependable, usually flowering on an annual basis. In most years, the crop is available from May to October. The best way to tell if an individual fruit is ready to eat is to pick it up as soon as it falls off the tree. Of course, that practice has its risks if you happen to be standing in the wrong place. Concussions are not cool. The second-best way to detect a ripe jackfruit is the sniff test to see if you can discern a sweet aroma featuring notes of bananas and pineapples. But it’s not just ripe jackfruits that attract fans; many Southeast Asian recipes use green fruit.

Further testimony to the jackfruit’s versatility is the fact that it can be eaten fresh, cooked, frozen or dehydrated. The most delicious part of a jackfruit is its arils, the fleshy material that surrounds the seeds; they are usually of a more vibrant color than the adjacent, more fibrous material known as rag. If you are a newcomer to dissecting the fruits, you might find these suggestions helpful in dealing with the latex inside: (1) Wear throwaway plastic gloves, such as the nitrile gloves used in medical offices; (2) Lubricate the blade of your cutting knife with vegetable oil; and (3) Slice the jackfruit open lengthwise on a news-paper. If you’re planning to cook a 2-3 lb. green jackfruit, first drop it into boiling water to make it easier to peel.

How can you choose a good jackfruit to grow at home? It’s fairly easy. Because jackfruit grows true to seed, i.e., its seedlings almost always have the characteristics of the original plant, you can just plant seeds of a fruit which you found tasty. Exactly what does jackfruit taste like? Some people have said that it reminds them of Juicy Fruit gum, and a few even claim that the gum is made using jackfruit. That’s probably not provable, because the exact ingredients in the gum are a trade secret, but some observers speculate that the aroma of both jackfruit and Juicy Fruit is like that produced by isoamyl acetate, a chemical com-pound associated with sweet, fruity smells.

While the jackfruit trees at Richard Lyons’ Nursery are still in production, you can drop by to purchase a whole fruit, priced by weight.

We close with a few recipes recommended by Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden:

Jackfruit Casserole (serves 4)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp minced onion
  • 2 cups green jackfruit flesh (cooked)

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Blend in mayonnaise and cream of mushroom soup. Stir in cheese, minced onion and jackfruit. Turn into a 2 quart casserole. Bake for 45 minutes.

Jackfruit Salad (Serves 4)

  • 6 cups fresh jackfruit
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • ¾ to 1 cup toasted walnuts – optional

In a large mixing bowl, combine jackfruit, lime juice, coconut, raisins and sour cream. If, after combining all ingredients, you feel mixture needs more of one above item, slowly add according to your taste. Add and mix in toasted walnuts just before serving.

NOTE:   Place walnuts on a cookie sheet, single layer, and toast 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 300-degree oven. Turn walnuts over after 4 or 5 minutes.

Jackfruit Patties (serves 8)

  • 4 cups green Jackfruit flesh (uncooked) 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ cup scallions, chopped
  • ¼ cup onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix jackfruit and whipping cream. Beat eggs. Gradually beat in flour. Mix in sugar, salt scallions and onions. Stir in jackfruit mixture. Mix well. Shape into patties. Fry in hot oil, browning on each side.

Jackfruit Compote on the Light Side

  • 4 cups jackfruit arils diced in quarters or eights
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 full tsp finely diced ginger
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Place the sugar and water in pot over medium heat to melt the sugar. Add all the other ingredients in the order shown. Cook until the jackfruit is soft, about ten minutes.

Something to Brighten Up Your Landscape

You’ll probably agree that one of our favorite tropical fruits is ananas. No, we didn’t leave the ‘b’ off bananas. What most of the world calls ananas (usually pronounced ananás) is what English-speakers call pineapple. ‘Ananas’ came from the word that the Tupí, a Brazilian indigenous people, used for the plant. ‘Pineapple’ probably arose from an English translation of the term that Columbus coined while under the misconception that he was looking at a conifer. Perhaps Chris is entitled to a break; he made a bad grade in botany before pursuing a career in navigation.

By any name, though, the pineapple is a very interesting plant. People are generally surprised to learn that it is a bromeliad, and, in fact, it has the greatest economic significance of any bromeliad. The plant doesn’t just produce a popular fruit – actually an aggregate, a collection of berries that coalesce into a single body. It also contains the enzyme bromelain, which is processed into meat tenderizer, and its leaves provide a valuable fiber.

A century ago, pineapples were grown commercially in Miami-Dade County, generally in the Miami neighborhood known as Lemon City. But because the crop is slow to mature and because land values began to rise, the farmland was sold off for development. Currently Richard Lyons’ Nursery has an edible pineapple plant for sale, Ananas comosus (Smooth Cayenne Pineapple), which is very flavorful, but much smaller than the commercially grown pineapples produced in Hawaii and elsewhere in the tropics.

Richard Lyons’ Nursery grows a very nice ornamental pineapple, Ananas lucidus, a species native to northern South America. In full sunlight, the rosette of leaves turns a striking reddish-bronze color. (The plant, also known as curagua, can be grown successfully in lower light, but the leaves will go green.) At maturity, A. lucidus produces an attractive inflorescence that combines red, white and violet hues. The fibrous fruit that ultimately appears is decorative rather than edible, its skin blending shades of pink, yellow and red. Maturing to about 3 in. high, the fruit can remain on the plant for a long time while a new plant develops on its crown.

Because a full-grown A. lucidus is only 3-4 ft. tall, an eye-catching way to use it in the landscape is as a sort of ground cover, grouping a number of plants to emphasize their rich color and formal structure. Caring for the species is easy. It flourishes in well-drained soils, and once established has low watering demands except during its fruiting phase. This attractive plant is available in the nursery in 3-gal. containers.

 

Portlandia and Other Rubiaceae Relatives

Portlandia grandiflora (Tree Lily or Bell Flower) has fragrant flowers like its relative, the Gardenia.  It is a small tree or shrub from the Caribbean attaining a height of 6-8 feet.  It grows best in filtered light and does very well in South Florida’s alkaline soils.  It blooms from spring to fall with 6 inch long bell shaped white to pinkish white flowers contrasted against dark green lush fleshy leaves.

Portlandia proctorii (Pink Bell Flower) is endemic to Jamaica and has a similar growth habit to P. grandiflora.  However, its leaves and flowers are much smaller and the flower color is pink to red.

Cubanola domingensis (Dominican Bell Flower) is endemic to the Dominican Republic and was once classified in the genus Portlandia.  It is a 5 foot shrub and its flowers are long, narrow, and hang straight down in pairs.  They are also fragrant like Portlandia, but off-white to almost green in color.  This plant thrives in partial shade to full shade.

Catesbaea spinosa (Lily Thorn) grows in full to partial sun and can attain a height of 8 feet.  It has a corky bark, very slender, tiny leaves, and with thorny branches.  It has 6 inch yellow-white flowers which dangle from the plant.  It produces an edible fruit which is slightly tart, but with good flavor.  Another member of this genus is C. parviflora which is native to the Florida Keys and is endangered.

Euclinia longiflora (African Tree Gardenia) has long tubular white fragrant flowers which hang down from the plant in contrast to the dark green foliage which resembles coffee leaves.  This is a small tree, 12-20 feet, which can be grown in full sun.  It is from tropical Africa and Madagascar.

Richard Lyons’ Nursery has Portlandia species in 3gal. containers.  We are currently in the process of propagating some of the relatives listed above.

 

 

 

Powderpuffs for Your Yard

In the inventory and articles published on this website, we think it’s helpful to provide both botanical and common names, but sometimes the informal names are head-scratchers. For example, “Swiss Chard” is the appellation placed on a plant that’s native to the Mediterranean. Fortunately, most common names do make sense, and we believe there are few more descriptive than ‘Powderpuff.’ The most ornamental species of the large genus Calliandra feature showy flowers which look like living powderpuffs. What gives the blooms their namesake appearance are their numerous long stamens (the pollen-bearing structures). In fact, the name Calliandra is derived from Greek words that mean ‘beautiful stamens.’ Below are descriptions of four Calliandra species/forms that Richard Lyons’ Nursery offers.

Calliandra emarginata is the Dwarf Powderpuff. It is native from southern Mexico to Panama. Its bright red blossoms, about 2½ in. across, start appearing on the plant at a relatively early age and keep showing up regularly and heavily thereafter. The plant bears kidney-shaped pairs of mid-green colored pinnate leaflets that fold up at night. C. emarginata matures to about 7 ft. It performs best when planted in full to lightly-filtered sun in moist, well-drained soil. It is amenable to pruning and can be shaped into a small tree. And because of its small stature, it is the Calliandra species best-suited to container culture. In addition to its ornamental beauty, the Dwarf Powderpuff attracts butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. While evergreen in southern Florida, in more northerly latitudes it will freeze to the ground and regrow when warmer weather returns.

Calliandra haematocephala, known as Red Powderpuff, is considerably larger than C. emarginata. Producing multiple stems, it can reach 12-15 ft. in height and about the same dimensions in width. It has long, arching stems that can be cut away from the lower trunk to produce an Acacia-like appear-ance, but it can also be pruned into a hedge. An owner who takes the time to pinch out new growth will be rewarded with more profuse flowering on a more compact plant. Leaflets emerge copper-colored, but mature to a dark green hue. It is native to Bolivia according to some sources, and from Nicaragua to Ecuador according to others. C. haematocephala flowers fragrantly, primarily in warmer months. It attracts butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. It likes full to lightly-filtered sun and well-drained soils.

Calliandra haematocephala ‘Alba’ is a form of C. haematocephala that flowers pure white, but is similar in all other aspects.

Calliandra surinamensis, the Pink and White Powderpuff, is another Calliandra that blooms most of the year in southern Florida. Its fragrant flowers are pink in the upper half and white in the lower half. Its coppery emergent leaflets harden off to a metallic dark green color. C. surinamensis pos-sesses a growth habit much like that of C. haematocephala. In the landscape, it can be shown off as a single tree, but something quite dramatic can be achieved on larger lots: A walkway can be lined with multiple specimens of this plant. The optimal effect is achieved by pruning away lower branch-es so that the remaining canopy grows above the head of those strolling along the path. If the walk-way is not narrow, these powderpuffs can be planted along both sides to create a colorful allee.

Calliandras are available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 7- and 15-gal. sizes. In addition, C. emargi-nata is grown here in 3-gal. containers.