Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Xeric Garden

A dwarf agave with rosettes less than 12 inches wide toughs it out in pure Florida sand. My guess is that it is one of the many forms of Agave potatorum. The genus Agave is native to the New World from the southern United States to South America but it reaches its greatest diversity in Mexico.

I have been watching the endeavors of a local gardener with keen interest. Apparently having grown weary of tending a lawn, this gardener removed all grass from a small front yard and is growing tough desert plants. Although markedly different from the typical pseudo-tropical south Florida garden, it shares with such gardens the presence of plants from far-flung regions of the world and a lack of any native plants.

Euphorbia tirucalli Sticks on Fire
Euphorbia tirucalli is native to Madagascar and is characterized by a highly toxic and caustic sap. It has also been linked with Burkitt's lymphoma, a typically rare cancer that tends to be associated with regions where Euphorbia tirucalli is extensively used as a hedge plant. The pictured plant is a cultivar with brightly colored new growth called 'Sticks on Fire.'

An Opuntia species with a growth habit similar to the native semaphore cactus (Opuntia corallicola); however, the native semaphore cactus is markedly spiny and tends to have pads of a lighter green color.

Pachypodium lamerei - Madagascar palm
The so-called Madagascar palm is not a palm at all. It is Pachypodium lamerei, a spiny-stemmed succulent from Madagascar in the oleander family (Apocynaceae). It should be handled with care since the spines are extremely sharp and can cause severe injuries or infections if they happen to impale the knuckles or joints of the fingers.

This aloe is very similar to Aloe arborescens from Africa; however, the rosettes are much smaller than that species. I am guessing that perhaps it is a small-growing hybrid of Aloe arborescens.

Images and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio

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