Dangerous African Snail Invading Miami, Florida: Update.

The Dept of Agriculture just shared this item with local growers and we thought you should be aware of it too:

Since their initial discovery in September 2011 by the Florida Department of Agriculture, state officials have now captured a total of 78,000 Giant African Land Snails in Miami- Dade County. The snails eat stucco, threaten more than 500 crops, and carry a parasite charmingly called ‘rat lungworm’ that can transfer a strain of meningitis to humans. Unfortunately, experts say the invasive species could take another 2-3 years to banish from South Florida.

A detailed article about this invasion is available on the Huffington Post. You can get a taste of it below and I’ve included a link to the article for you also.

Giant African Land Snails Miami

A slimy invasion is still oozing through Miami, and we aren’t talking about South Beach club-loving tourists. State agriculture officials announced Wednesday they have now captured a total of 78,000 giant African land snails since the current infestation was discovered last September.

Read more here.

Krugiodendron ferreum (Black Ironwood)

Krugiodendron ferreum, or Black Ironwood, is native from Cape Canaveral southward into islands of the Caribbean Basin and from southern Mexico to Honduras.  It is often found in hammockland near coastal waters, yet once established in an urban setting, it does not require irrigation.  As the refer-ence to iron in its species name suggests, the wood of this species is extremely hard.  In fact, it may be the densest, heaviest wood of any native tree in the United States.  While not valued as a construc-tion material, it has some popularity as a medium for woodcarvers.

Black Ironwood grows slowly to somewhere between 16 and 33 ft. high.  Its glossy green, leathery oval leaves persist for two or three years on the tree.  The fruits of this tree are attractive to birds.  At the nursery, we have Krugiodendron growing in 3-gallon containers.

Krugiodendron ferreum (Black Ironwood)

Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm)

Quick!  Can you name a beautiful ornamental succulent plant that somehow belongs in the same family as hyacinth and asparagus?  Our choice is Beaucarnea recurvata, a uniquely constructed tree native to arid areas of southeastern Mexico.  Where it’s native, Beaucarnea can reach 30 ft. high after many years, but in cultivation tends to stay shorter.  It starts life as a single-trunked plant, but as it grows may develop several upright branches, each topped by a rosette of flat, long, narrow ribbon-like leaves.  Upon maturing, it produces creamy-white flowers on a stalk extending above each tuft of leaves.

At the opposite end of the plant is another distinctive feature — a swollen base, or caudex, vaguely resembling an elephant’s foot.  The purpose of this structure is to store water, and therein lies a clue as to Beaucarnea‘s cultural preference:  It thrives in sunny, dry conditions.  Fortunately, it tolerates southern Florida’s climate perfectly well as long as it is planted in a well-drained site.  It is also capable of thriving in container culture for many years, and its size can be moderated by keeping it potted.  Beaucarnea can be grown successfully indoors, provided that it is kept near a source of strong light and that watering is drastically reduced.

Beaucarnea recurvata is often called the Ponytail Palm, but, aside from also being a monocot, it is not related to palms.  You can find this very interesting tree here at the nursery in 7-gallon containers, as well as large field-grown specimens.


Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm 7gal pot)

Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm field grown)

Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm field grown)

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus)

In our part of the world, the genus Ficus has gotten a rather mixed reputation, primarily because some species have aggressive root systems than can raise sidewalks, crack foundations and clog underground pipes.  But not all of the 800 or so species of this genus present such risks.  One that is especially useful in the landscape of southern Florida is Ficus microcarpa ‘Green Island’, a very attractive shrub that grows slowly and benignly here.  It is known for its friendly roots.  Its glossy green leaves have lots of ornamental appeal, and it neither requires frequent watering nor is particular about soil type.  Left alone, it will reach 8 ft. in height, but with periodic shearing it can be maintained as a nice ground cover.  The Green Island Ficus is even capable of being grown as a house plant or as a Bonsai specimen.

Please drop by the nursery and evaluate the Green Island Ficus first-hand.  We have them in 3- and 15-gallon containers.


Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus 6-7′ unpruned hedge)

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus 4′ pruned hedge)

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus 6-12″ groundcover)

Ficus microcarpa (Green Island Ficus bonsai)


Polyalthia longifolia (Mast Tree)

About 35-40 years ago, a Miami couple fresh from a long trip to Asia brought seeds of an attractive Indian evergreen tree to Fairchild Tropical Garden.  Over time this species, Polyalthia longifolia (a/k/a P. longifolia var. pendula), has proven to be a very successful introduction to the landscape of southern Florida.  Commonly known as the Mast Tree, it is pyramidal – or spindle-shaped – and capable of reaching 30+ ft. in height.  It features long drooping branches and dark green lance-shaped glossy leaves with undulating margins.  Polyalthia provides an excellent alternative to Italian Cypress, which in southern Florida is prone to spider mites and fungal disorders.

In the landscape of bustling Asian cities, the Mast Tree is often used to soften noise.  Aside from its ornamental appeal, Polyalthia is said to contain medicinal properties.  Studies reputedly confirm antifungal and antibacterial capacities, as well as usefulness in combating ulcers, fever, hyper-tension, diabetes, and certain cancers.  At the nursery, these handsome trees are available in 3- and 15-gallon sizes.

Polyalthia longifolia (Mast Tree)

Polyalthia longifolia (Mast Tree Flowers)