Sunday, November 4, 2012

Amelia's Smarty Plants

Jatropha integerrima
Jatropha integerrima is a drought tolerant shrub from Cuba in the euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae). It is very common in south Florida gardens and is often recommended for butterfly gardens.

Amelia's Smarty Plants is a full service neighborhood garden center located at 1515 North Dixie Highway in Lake Worth, Florida (phone number: (561) 540-6330). Plants in stock are very diverse and include a wide variety of subtropical and tropical ornamental plants as well as flowering annuals, herbs, and a diverse selection of Floria native plants. Below are a few photographs that I took on a recent visit.

Justicia betonica - white shrimp plant
Justicia betonica, the white shrimp plant, is native to Africa and has unassuming flowers peeking out from white, green-veined bracts; however, the flowers apparently produce ample nectar since they are avidly visited by honeybees. Like many shrimp plants in the genus Justicia, it has plain green leaves and is vegetatively nondescript.

Nerium oleander Variegata - variegated oleander
Nerium oleander 'Variegata' is a variegated oleander with brilliant chartreuse leaves that gradually develop varying amounts of green. The flowers are blousy pink things that I do not find particularly attractive. Oleander is now cultivated throughout the subtropics and tropics of the world but was originally native to western Asia and the Mediterranean region of Europe and northern Africa. Formerly regarded as non-invasive in the United States, it is now listed as invasive in Arizona and it is escaping to floodplains and riparian zones in California.

Podranea ricasoliana - Pink Trumpet Vine - Zimbabwe Creeper
The pink trumpet vine, also known as Zimbabwe creeper (Podranea ricasoliana), is an African vine in the bignonia family (Bignoniaceae). It has escaped cultivation in a few counties in Florida. Such occurrences should be carefully monitored to see if, like many tropical vines, it has invasive tendencies.

Tecoma hybrid
This is a hybrid Tecoma and the flower color and flower form leave no doubt that it is in the same family (the Bignoniaceae) as the native trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). And like the native trumpet creeper, it is attractive to hummingbirds. The genus Tecoma is native to both the New World tropics as well as to Africa.

Chrysanthemum morifolium - common garden chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum ×morifolium, the garden chrysanthemum, was domesticated in China where it was originally used as a culinary herb and tea plant. It generally does not survive south Florida's hot and humid summers; however, many garden centers carry them as short-lived decorative flowering plants to brighten the autumn garden. The plant pictured here has pom-pom flowers, one of 13 classes into which chrysanthemum flowers are categorized.

Chrysanthemum morifolium - common garden chrysanthemum
This showy chrysanthemum with brilliant autumnal colors has semi-double flowers, another of the 13 classes into which chrysanthemum flowers are categorized.

Images and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio

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