Podranea ricasoliana (Pink Trumpet Vine)

One of the hardiest of vines introduced to the United States is Podranea ricasoliana, the Pink Trumpet Vine.  During the fall, winter and spring it bears fragrant pale pink, bell-shaped flowers highlighted by red stripes.  The glossy foliage is also attractive.  The plant is one of the Bignoniaceae family, which also includes  the Jacaranda Tree.

The vine is thought to be native to the eastern coast of South Africa, but some botanists believe that it may have been introduced there by merchants.  When left to its own devices, the plant can reach 16-20 ft. high and wide, but is very amenable to hard pruning following flowering.  In fact, annual pruning also serves to proliferate flowering the next time around.  It can be left as a ground cover or mounted to a trellis, pergola or chain link fence.  Since this species does not produce tendrils, it may be tied to its support in whatever arrangement the grower favors.

Podranea ricasoliana (Pink Trumpet Vine)

Podranea ricasoliana (Pink Trumpet Vine)

The Pink Trumpet Vine is hardy throughout Florida and in parts of Texas, Arizona and California, proof of its resistance to both heat and cold.  Frost may nip leaf tips, but regrowth is vigorous.  The vine favors good drainage, and regular composting will help it thrive by lowering soil pH.  P. ricasoliana is available at the nursery in 3-gallon containers.

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)