In recent forays around town, I’ve started photographing local trees. None of these species lived up North (where I grew up,) so I’ve been curious lo learn about them. Today I’ll share a few facts about my favorites, starting with the Red Mangrove.
Red Mangroves growing in Florida are shorter and bushier than their Caribbean counterparts. They have long, arching, above ground “prop” roots that supply air to the anchoring roots below the waterline. Red mangroves are a familiar sight in brackish creeks, bays, and lagoons, trapping the mud and silt that flows in with the tide. An estimated 75% of South Florida’s game fish, and 90% of its commercial, aquatic species depend on the mangrove system.
Live oaks are large, spreading trees seen throughout Florida in sandy soil and rich woods alike. Rapid growers when young, they sometimes reach heights of 70-85ft and live to be centuries old when properly sited. Their reclining branches form excellent supports for epiphytic plantlife like the garlands of Spanish moss in the picture.
The next tree on my list is actually a grass ➡ what I’ve been erroneously calling yellow “trunks” are correctly referred to as culms. 😉 Obviously, I’m in the earliest stages of Bamboo education!
There are over 1000 Bamboo varieties worldwide and the humid Florida climate is well suited for many of them. I can’t say for certain (yet!) which variety grows across the driveway from the Hallstrom House Garden, but I CAN tell you our area is plagued by Golden Bamboo, a Category 2 Invasive that spreads via underground rhizomes. When choosing bamboo for landscape or specimen plantings, the clumping, non-runner varieties are a safer way to go! (For further info, check out FloridaBamboo.com)
And lastly, my favorite local trees, the Palms! 🙂
Queen Palms are planted along sidewalks and in yards all over town. When the bottom fronds die, they are VERY slow to drop away from the tree. some persist for months unless lopped off by hand or gusty winds. 🙂 Judging from the picture, Disney prunes their Palms for a consistent, neat appearance but I think the natural look is more graceful: click here to see my wild, unpruned tree. The typical Queen Palm reaches 25-50 ft tall with a 15-25ft glossy green canopy that flutters beautifully in tropical breezes.
In the next picture, note the row of Cabbage Palms behind the hedge to the left of the path.
This Florida native is salt tolerant and nearly hurricane proof, making it a perfect beachside choice. They top out at 10-35 ft tall with dense round crowns; their leaves are a mix of feather and fan shapes known as “costapalmate.” The growing heart of the new fronds gives the tree its “cabbage” name, since this is extracted as a food and tastes like cabbage: if you’ve ever ordered Hearts of Palm salad at a restaurant, this is what you’ve eaten! 🙂
Another little known fact, is how these trees are acquired. Because of their relatively long establishment period, few are grown from seed in nurseries. Instead, established plants are harvested from ranch pastures (or the wild) and then dug into new locations. Given warm soil temps and plenty of water, new roots will regenerate from the base of the trunk.. Removing all the fronds increases the new transplants’ rate of survival. .
Until next time…..