This week’s featured plants are two native asters in the Smphyotrichum genus. Symphyotrichum dumosum (Rice Button Aster), is a mounding herbaceous plant native to eastern North America. In Florida, it is present in most of the state, but most noticeably absent from Hendry, Palm Beach, and Broward counties. The three counties just south of Lake Okeechobee. It occurs in drier prairie and grassland habitats. This Aster has pale lavender blossums, which are present in the fall and winter months in South Florida. The flowers attract Skipper Butterflies and honey bees.
Symphyotrichum carolinianum (Climbing Aster), is a woody vine/shrub, also native to eastern North America. It also occurs in almost all of Florida, except the western most Panhandle counties. Unlike its cousin, this aster grows in the wetlands of Florida. The flowers are very similar in size and color to the Rice Button Aster, and they also attract Skipper Butterflies and honey bees.
If you desire some color in the fall and winter months, these plants are for you and are available at Richard Lyons Nursery.
Mimosa strigillosa (Powderpuff or Sensitive Plant) is a wonderful groundcover which is relatively drought tolerant. It is native to Miami-Dade County and most of the counties north of Lake Okeechobee. The name ‘powderpuff’ is derived from the shape of its pink flowers resembling a powderpuff. The ‘sensitive plant’ comes from the fact its fern-like leaves close up upon touching them. Even the force of raindrops causes the leaves to close.
It is also the host plant of the Little Yellow, or Little Sulphur Butterfly (Eurema lisa). This butterfly occurs in southern parts of North America, including South Florida.
Richard Lyons Nursery currently has this plant in stock.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima – This variable species is commonly known as the Pride of Barbados, Peacock Flower, or, inaccurately, Dwarf Poinciana. It has become widespread in the tropics, but its origin was probably the West Indies and northern South America. It flowers prolifically, and the more common hues of its 2-in. blooms are orange-red, yellow, white and pink.
The ultimate appearance of this species depends on the attention given to it. If the owner does judicious pruning, C. pulcherrima can be groomed into a tree reaching around 20 ft. tall. If the owner has a more laissez faire approach, the plant will become a fairly sprawling shrub to about 10-12 ft. For best flowering, the Pride of Barbados should be planted in full sun, though it can handle some shade. It is not particular about soil. Because of its spines, the plant should be located on sites not close to foot traffic. Despite the tropical origin of C. pulcherrima, it can be grown even in some places where it freezes to the ground in the winter, because roots are said to be able to survive 15° nights and regenerate in the spring.
Richard Lyons Nursery has this shrub in pink, yellow, and the most common, orange.
Today’s topic is all about Ground Orchids (Spathoglottis). Ground orchids are as the name suggests, terrestrial orchids which grow in moist, light shaded areas of the garden. There are several hybrids and cultivars producing a wide variety of colors, ranging from white to yellow, along with bicolored flowers. The most common color is violet and various shades of violet.
Richard Lyons Nursery has several different color varieties available.
A fruit tree currently at the nursery bearing fruit is June Plum (Spondias dulcis). Trees are grown from seed, and start bearing at a very young age, usually in less than a year from germination. The pale yellow flowers appear in large terminal panicles, followed by long stalked oval fruits which dangle in bunches. The fruits are 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long turning golden yellow when ripe. A word of caution when eating this fruit, the spiny seed inside can be very painful. Best to cut the flesh away from the seed when eating this fruit.
While this tree is native to southeast Asia, it was introduced to Jamaica in 1782, where it remains very popular on the island to this day.
Richard Lyons Nursery has this tree for sale, and the fruit when in season.