Under The Jakfruit Tree

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.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

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.

Under the Jakfruit Tree

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.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

Today’s topic brings me to 3 native Lantana species. Lantana is a genus of perennial flowering plants in the Verbenaceae family (Verbena Family). The first native lantana is Lantana depressa var. depressa (Pineland Lantana). This plant grows in the Pine Rocklands habitat which has been greatly reduced in area over the years due to development. It is officially listed as endangered and only grows in Miami-Dade County along with another species of Lantana, Lantana canescens (Hammock Shrubverbena). Finally, a third native species, Lantana involucrata (Buttonsage), occurs in 16 coastal counties, including the Florida Keys to Key West. This species is more upright and can attain a height of 6-7 feet. All three of these species are excellent nectar sources for our local butterflies and are currently in stock at Richard Lyons Nursery.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

Today’s topic is about three members of the Euphorbiaceae Family (The Spurge Family). Euphorbia is the biggest genus in this family, but today focuses on the little known Cnidoscolus genus and the better known Jatropha genus.

First let’s focus on Cnidoscolus aconitifolius, the Chaya or Tree Spinach shrub. It is native to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It is used as a leaf vegetable in Mexican and Central American cuisines similar to spinach, thus its common name. Unlike spinach, Chaya leaves must be cooked before being eaten. In South Florida however, I believe the main reason to grow this plant is its excellent nectar source for honey bees and butterflies.

Along the lines of nectar sources, are two Jatrophas. Jatropha podagrica (The Gout Plant) and Jatropha integerrima (Peregrina Tree or Spicy Jatropha). Both with bright red flowers which tend to draw in Monarch Butterflies to their flowers. While Jatropha integerrima is a small tree which by the way blooms year-round, Jatropha podagrica is a smaller plant, which can attain a height of 3-4 feet over time with a swollen caudex for moisture storage during times of drought. This feature is very popular with collectors of caudiciform plants. Like all members of the Euphorbiaceae Family, their seed pods explode, sending seeds several feet from the mother plant, and seedlings are very commonly found all around the plant.

Richard Lyons Nursery has all three of these plants in stock.