Tropical Florida Gardens - What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Tropical Florida Gardens

What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Summer Blooms: Ylang Ylang, Bangar Nut, African Pin Cushion

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 23rd

The ylang ylang tree at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates has finally started blooming! The oils of this flower are used to make perfumes such as Chanel No. 5, so you can imagine how fragrant it is.  The tree is close to the fence along McGregor Boulevard in front of the Edison guest house.   There are just a few ylang ylang trees available for purchase in the Estates Garden Shoppe.

The Estates is seeing encore performances from the bangar nut tree (Sterculia foetida) and African pin cushion (Sarcocephalus latifolius) this summer.  Both bloomed in May and are blooming again right now.  The bangar nut is known for its mothball-scented flower and the pin cushion has a unique flower that is sweetly scented.  The bangar nut tree is in the Estates research gardens behind the Banyan Café and the pin cushion is next to the public butterfly garden behind the ticket office.

Unexpected Blooms – Azalea & Cereus

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 15th

Strange things are afoot at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates this week!  Our azalea is blooming! Normally azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) bloom a few weeks after temperatures drop below 50°F and then warm up.  The Estates’ azalea has a of couple blooms that apparently didn’t read the book!

In addition, a few of our night-blooming cereus (Hylocereus undatus) had blooms that were still open at 10 a.m on Tuesday.  This is the first and only time this year we’ve noticed them open during the day. 

If you would like to view them, the azalea is under an oak in the picnic area near the Banyan Café and the cereus plants are growing on various cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto) within the Ford Estate. We can’t promise that the cereus will be blooming, but you may get lucky if you visit early in the day.

Name That Plant III ANSWER: Strawberry Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 28th

by Britta Soderqvist, Plant Curator

Last week we asked you to identify this plant:

Today, we have the answer for you –

Strawberry Tree or Jamaica Cherry, Muntingia calabura

This is a perfect tree for a lazy gardener!  Do you enjoy sweet, home-grown fruit like strawberries but don’t like all that bending and stooping to plant, weed and harvest?  The strawberry tree produces copious amounts of small, sweet fruits at least twice a year, all at knee level or higher.  Don’t like to spend the money and effort fertilizing and watering your garden?  This tree grows well in poor soils and is even used to help revegetate disturbed and eroded soils in some parts of the world.  Once established, the strawberry tree shouldn’t require any extra watering except in prolonged droughts.

The strawberry tree (named for the flower that resembles the strawberry plant) may grow up to 40 feet, but the fruits will easily fall to the ground when the tree is shaken.  Although not native to Florida, it is native to the tropical Americas and will do well in areas that do not freeze often (Zones 10-11).  If you live in a colder climate, plants grown in pots should still produce fruits.  Although it is reported that wildlife will eat the fruits, there are plenty of ripe fruits underneath the Edison & Ford Winter Estates trees, suggesting that our local birds don’t care for them.  The large tree at the Estates (across the paved road from our Banyan Café) was planted in 2006 and is approximately 15 feet tall now.  The Estates Garden Shoppe sells strawberry trees for $10-$15 depending on the size of the plant.

Plant Spotlight: "Buttered Popcorn" Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 9th

by Britta Soderqvist, Estates Plant Curator

There is a tree at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates whose small white flowers smell like buttered popcorn!  It just started blooming in late May.  The plant’s name is False Rubberwood (Mascarenhasia arborescens) although the common name is not really used much.  We typically refer to it as the “buttered popcorn tree”.  It grows to about 20 feet high and although the online resources say it prefers full sun, ours is growing in partial shade.  The False Rubberwood is native to tropical regions of Africa and requires a moderate amount of water . 

Visitors can smell the flowers on the tree that is next to the kapok tree behind the Banyan Café.  It’s fairly difficult to find these in Florida but the Estates Garden Shoppe has a few of these trees for sale in pots.