Under The Jakfruit Tree

This week’s featured plant is Hamelia cuprea (Bahama Firebush). Despite its common name of Bahama Firebush, this shrub is native to Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, and the Cayman Islands, but NOT the Bahamas. A close relative to Hamelia patans, our native Firebush, its leaves are larger and glossier, and the flowers are bell shaped and much more showy. In the fall and winter, the leaves turn a bronze color. The overall appearance of this shrub is conical and denser due to its larger leaves. Like our native Firebush, this one is also an excellent nectar source for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Richard Lyons Nursery has the Bahama Firebush in stock as well as the S. Florida native.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

The Tree Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea arborea) is in all its splendor now in S. Florida. A true species Bougainvillea that grows in tree form usually with multiple trunks. It can attain a height of 20 feet or more and only has light purple to lavender bracts. Unlike its hybrid cousins, which have many different colors and grow in shrub to vining form. However, just like its hybrid cousins, all Bougainvilleas make excellent nectar sources for butterflies, as well as hummingbirds.

Richard Lyons Nursery has this Tree Bougainvillea in 3gal. containers.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

Today’s post features 3 palms in the Genus Dypsis. Dypsis cabadae, (Cabada Palm), Dypsis lanceolata (Ivovowo Palm), and Dypsis leptocheilos (Teddy Bear Palm).

Dypsis cabadae is a water-loving species that was almost unknown here 35 years ago. Its dark green stems with white rings marking where leaves once were gives this palm a bamboo-like appearance.  It reaches 30-40 ft. at maturity and can be grown in light shade to sun. It is native to islands off the coast of Madagascar.

Dypsis lanceolata, the Ivovowo Palm, is another clumping palm. Narrower trunks than the Cabada Palm, but with similar white markings. The flowers and orange fruits are very attractive on this palm.

Dypsis leptocheilos, commonly called the Teddy Bear Palm because of the rust-colored fuzz (tomentum) on its crownshaft, is a critically-endangered native of Madagascar. This single-stemmed species matures to about 30 ft. and bears prominent leaf scars on its whitish trunk. It prefers sunny exposures and lots of water. It bears very long pinnate leaves, but almost no petiole.

Richard Lyons Nursery has all three of these palm species in stock.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

This weeks featured plants are both in the Genus Rondeletia, in the family Rubiaceae (The Coffee Family). Rondeletia leucophylla (Bush Pentas) and Rondeletia odorata (Panama Rose), with R. leucophylla the more common of the two. The Genus was named for the French physician, Guillaume Rondelet (1507-1566), who had a particular interest in botany. Both of these plants are shrubs which can attain a height of 4-5 feet. R. leucophlla is native to Mexico and blooms year round in S. FL. with clusters of pink flowers. R. odorata is native to Cuba and Panama, with clusters of orange flowers that have yellow centers. Both of these shrubs are excellent nectar sources for all of our native butterflies, so they would be excellent additions to any butterfly garden.

Richard Lyons Nursery currently has both of these plants in stock.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

Queen’s Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa) is a deciduous subtropical tree, USDA hardiness zone 10B-11, closely related to the more cold tolerant Lagerstroemia indica.  However, Queen’s Crape Myrtle has a single trunk,  much larger crown spread, larger leaves, and larger flowers varying in color from pink to purple, as opposed to the many flower colors of L. indica.  It attains a height of 25-30′ in South Florida, with a profusion of blooms from mid-May to June, followed by woody rounded capsules which split open revealing many seeds, which small song birds feed upon.

The common name, ‘Crape or Crepe’, is probably due to the crinkled flowers resembling delicate crepe paper, and ‘myrtle’ because the peeling bark of L indica resembles the trunk of trees in the myrtle family.  The genus Lagerstroemia is named for the Swedish merchant, Magnus von Lagerstrom, who supplied Carolus Linnaeus with plants he collected.

The tree is native to SE Asia, and is called Banaba in the Philippines.  The flowers and leaves are used to make an herbal tea, as they contain corrosolic acid, a chemical which has an insulin like effect of lowering glucose levels in the body.

Richard Lyons’ Nursery has a very large pink flowering variety of Queen’s Crape Myrtle which is much showier than most of the varieties seen in the nursery trade.  Most varieties sold in S. FL. tend to be more purple or lavender than pink, and much smaller sized flower.