Agaves

Agaves comprise just over 200 species of succulent plants native to the New World, from the southwestern U.S. to northern South America.  They are characterized by a rosette of fleshy, stiff leaves capable of withstanding severe heat and drought.  Over time, the common name Century Plant has been attached to the genus on the claim that flowering occurs just once in a hundred years.  However, the truth is that most species produce a once-in-a-lifetime bloom after 12-20 years.  The flower stalk can be quite tall and bear plantlets which root out upon falling to the ground.  The plants can also reproduce via basal shoots or suckers, as well as by seeding.

Agaves are as well-known for their commercial uses as for their ornamental beauty.  For instance, Agave sisalana has long been the source of fibers used to make doormats, rope and twine.  The species is now grown commercially in many tropical countries, and Brazil has become the leader in sisal production.  Another species. A. tequilana, is, as the name suggests, the source of the wallop in tequila.

We have several interesting agave species at the nursery.  One of the special ones is A. desmettiana ‘Variegata,’  the Dwarf Variegated Agave, native to Mexico.  This stately species, defined by yellow leaf margins, grows slowly to dimensions of 30-36 inches tall and wide before hoisting an inflorescence of pale yellow flowers.  It can be utilized in the landscape in several ways.  It is striking planted out in a desert-type setting and shows off well when situated among decorative stones.  But it can also be used to great advantage as a containerized plant.  Such an application has been made with great aesthetic appeal at the Shops of Merrick Place in Coral Gables, where specimens have been planted in large clay saucers affixed to open-air stairways around the complex.  We carry A. desmettiana ‘Variegata’  in 1- and 3-gallon containers.

Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ (Dwarf Variegated Agave)

Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ (Dwarf Variegated Agave)

Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ (Dwarf Variegated Agave with Plantlets Forming Along The Flower Stalk)

Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ (Dwarf Variegated Agave)

Agave attenuata (Swan’s Neck Agave)

Old Man Palm (Coccothrinax crinita)

The Old Man Palm is endemic to Cuba, but grows very well as an ornamental landscape palm in S. Florida.  It is a single trunk fan palm, with white-grey fibers covering the trunk.  These fibers emerge from the new fronds and hang down and surround the trunk, giving the appearance of a grey beard, which is why this palm gets its name.  Even the species name, ‘crinita’ is from the latin, meaning, ‘hairy’.    This palm is slow growing, but it can eventually obtain a height of 30′.  The trunk is only 3-8″ in diameter, but the beard surrounding the trunk, gives the illusion that the trunk is over 2′ in diameter.  The nursery currently has a large selection of these palms to choose from in 7gal. pots ranging in height from 12-15″ tall.

Coccothrinax crinita (Old Man Palm)
5′ Tall

Coccothrinax crinita (Old Man Palm)
12′ Tall

Coccothrinax crinita (Old Man Palm)
3′ Tall

Coccothrinax crinita (Old Man Palm)
12-15″ Tall in 7gal. Pots

Coccothrinax crinita (Old Man Palm)
12-15″ Tall in 7gal. Pots

The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) is the largest butterfly occurring in the United States, with a wingspan that can reach 6″.  The larvae are sometimes called ‘Orange Dogs’ due to their host plants being members of the Citrus (Rutaceae) family.  They also feed on noncommercial members of this family, including a Florida native, Wild Lime (Zanthoxylum fagara).  Common Rue (Ruta graveolens), an herb in the citrus family is also a host to this butterfly.  Females lay single eggs on the top of leaves, and when they hatch, the larvae resemble bird droppings.  They feed right in the middle of the upper surface of the leaf, and since they resemble a bird dropping, they avoid predation.  As the larvae age, their appearance changes to somewhat resemble a snake head which is the color of the branches of the tree, and camoflages them nicely.  If a bird or lizard should get close to them, they protrude a forked orange scent gland called an osmeterium, resembling a snake’s tongue, which emits a foul smell, to deter any predator.  Finally, the chrysalis is also well camoflaged, resembling a small twig.

Papilio cresphontes on Cestrum aurantiacum (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Yellow Jasmine)

Papilio cresphontes egg on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Egg on Wild Lime Tree)

Papilio cresphontes larva on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Larva on Wild Lime Tree)

Papilio cresphontes larva on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Larva on Wild Lime)

Papilio cresphontes larva on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Larva on Wild Lime Tree)

Papilio cresphontes larva on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Larva on Wild Lime Tree)

Papilio cresphontes larva on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Larva on Wild Lime Tree)

Papilio cresphontes larva on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Larva on Wild Lime Tree)

Papilio cresphontes larva showing its red osmeterium on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Larva on Wild Lime Tree)

Papilio cresphontes chrysalis on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Chrysalis on Wild Lime)

Papilio cresphontes chrysalis on Zanthoxylum fagara (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Chrysalis on Wild Lime)

Ruta graveolens (Common Rue)

Zanthoxylum fagara (Wild Lime)

Zanthoxylum fagara (Wild Lime)

Papilio cresphontes on Bauhinia divaricata (Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Butterfly Orchid Tree)

 

Florida Natives

Richard Lyons’ Nursery has a large selection of Florida Native Plants for the landscape.  Here are just a few to choose from:

Acacia farnesiana (Sweet Acacia)

Argusia gnaphalodes (Sea Lavender)

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)

Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry)

Glandularia maritima (Coastal Mock Vervain)

Guaiacum sanctum (Lignum Vitae Fruit)

Guaiacum sanctum (Lignum Vitae)

Helianthus debilis (Dune Sunflower)

Ipomoea microdactyla (Calcareous Morning Glory)

Mimosa strigillosa (Sensitive Plant)

Myrcianthes fragrans (Simpson’s Stopper)

Myrcianthes fragrans (Simpson’s Stopper)

Passiflora suberosa (Corky Stem Passion Vine)

Passiflora suberosa (Corky Stem Passion Vine Fruit)

Pithecellobium keyense (Blackbead)

Pithecellobium keyense (Blackbead Seeds)

Psychotria ligustrifolia (Bahama Wild Coffee)

Psychotria ligustrifolia (Bahama Wild Coffee)

Psychotria nervosa (Wild Coffee)

Psychotria sulzneri (Shortleaf Wild Coffee)

Ruellia caroliniensis (Carolina Wild Petunia)

Salvia coccinea (Scarlet Sage)

Senna ligustrina (Privet Wild Sensitive Plant)

Senna mexicana var. chapmanii (Chapman’s Senna)

Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto)

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (Native Blue Porterweed)

Symphyotrichum dumosum (Rice Button Aster)

Ming Fern (Asparagus macowanii)

Despite its name, the ming fern is a flowering plant and not a fern at all.   It produces white flowers in the spring to early summer.  It is in the same genus as the edible cultivated perennial vegetable, Asparagus officinalis.

Ming Ferns do well in full sun as well as shaded locations.  A native to arid regions of South Africa, this is a very drought tolerant plant.  It can reach a height of 4-6′ when grown in the ground, but can also be grown in containers to achieve a much smaller plant.

Whether you want to grow one in the garden or maintain one in a decorative pot on a balcony or patio, we have many to choose from in 3 gal. containers for $10.00 each.

Asparagus macowanii (Ming Fern)

Asparagus macowanii (Ming Fern)

Asparagus macowanii (Ming Fern)