Really Old Plants and Trees
When I posted the bougainvillea story last week, I mentioned the ‘old lady’ of my yard… a magenta bougainvillea about 80 years old.
It got me to thinking about the other plants and trees that were in this yard 40 years ago and the ones that are still here today.
Click on any picture to make it larger, then click on the right or left side of the image to move through the gallery.
The Old Homestead
My house was built in 1937, and I am guessing that most of the vegetation and trees were planted around the time the house was built. We bought the house in 1976, so many of the trees already may have been 40 years old when we moved in. Besides beauty, the place we’ve called home for 36 years has a wonderful edible history, too.
I grew up in a midwest farming community, so, being new to Florida, I was in awe of what grew in the yard without any help whatsoever. The yard had three coconut palms, two mango trees (a Haden – on the right in this picture – and an Alphonso – also called an Indian mango), many citrus trees (tangelo, calamondin, tangerine, key lime , grapefruit, navel orange), two varieties of avocados, a sapodilla tree and several Surinam cherries.
Coconut Palms All Gone
All of the coconut palms are gone. They were killed by lethal yellowing, a disease that wiped out nearly all of the coconut palms in South Florida in the late 1970s. I replaced the coconut palms with royal palms in the early 1980s.
Of the three seedling Royal palms, (bought for $1 each from a neighbor who grew them in coffee cans in her backyard) only one remains. One died of unknown causes in the first couple of years.
The second was felled by Hurricane Francis in 2004. The third is now about 35 feet tall and beautiful.
The remaining Royal Palm is visited by Florida’s wild green parrots who eat the new tender palm frond shoots.
Citrus and Sapodilla
There are no citrus trees left on this property. Early on, I learned that citrus trees had a lifespan of about 50 years, and they began dying off during the late 1970s on through the early 1990s. The tangelo, tangerine, key lime, naval orange and grapefruit trees died of old age. The calamondon tree was destroyed during Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
I replaced the key lime tree with two others grown from seed from the first tree, which was not a grafted tree.
One of the new key lime trees was destroyed by Hurricane Francis, and the second was eventually killed by citrus canker and had to be removed about three years ago.
The sapodilla tree is in the farthest corner of the yard and is pretty much ignored. It has never had much fruit on it. It does have a beautiful dark green canopy that shades the west side of the yard from the hot sun in the afternoons.
The larger of the two original avocado trees died about 20 years ago. The smaller of the two trees is still going strong and had two exceptionally productive years recently.
I don’t know what variety of avocado it is, but the fruit is buttery and smooth.
Both the Haden and the Alphonso mango trees keep us, our family and the neighbors in mangos every summer. The Alphonso is the most prolific of the two.
In 2011 and 2012, though, in the early spring, storms produced winds so strong that the mangos were blown off the tree in a stage that was way too early for them to ripen. A reduced crop was the result.
Surinam cherries, also known as Florida cherries, have fruit that varies from red to dark purple and have an exotic, wild taste.
I pick and eat them right off the bush if I am in the yard. Surinam cherries are considered an invasive species in south Florida, because they will take over the landscaping. They are not a problem in my yard, because I keep them pruned.
There is so much more to tell about what grows in my yard and other places I have been. Not to mention, I am just about ready to tackle the vegetable garden again this year.
Sign up on the right side of this page to be notified via email each time something new posts on this site.
Tags: Alphonso mangos · avocado · Bougainvillea · calamondin · citrus canker · coconut palms · Florida wild green parrots · grapefruit · Haden Mangos · Hurricane Francis · Hurricane Wilma · Indian mangos · key lime · lethal yellowing · naval orange · Royal palms · sapodilla · Surinam Cherries · tangelo · tangerine5 Comments