07 Jun

Old, Unusual Trees of Africa: Baobab

Baobab (Adansonia) is the most unusual of all the trees. Native of hot and dry regions of Africa especially in Madagascar, Arabian Peninsula and South Asia, Baobab grows as tall, voluminous and solitary tree. At first appearance, it seems as the tree has been plucked from the ground and pushed back with its head downwards and roots in the air. That is why it is also called Upside Down Tree.

Baobab Trees in Madagascar

Baobab Trees in Madagascar

Legend has it that Baobab was among the first trees on earth. When it saw tall and smart palm tree, it cried out and wanted to be taller. God granted his wish. Then Baobab wished to have beautiful flowers like the beautiful flame tree. His wish was granted. Baobab looked at the fig tree and wanted to have fruits as well. God became angry with Baobab, pulled it up by its roots and thrust its head in the ground to keep it quite.

Baobab remains leafless for most time of the year and lives on the supply of water (up to 450 liters) that it stores in its fibrous and corky trunk. This extremely drought tolerant tree can live for thousands of years. The biggest and oldest known Baobab tree is about 6000 years old and stands at Sunland Farm in Limpop province of South Africa. Popular Species of Baobab are Adansonia Madagascariensis, Adansonia Grandidieri and Adansonia Digitata.

Baobab (Adansonia) in South Africa

Baobab (Adansonia) in South Africa

Adansonia Digitata is known for its unusual flower and fruit. Typically, it bears big, white flowers that carry carrion smell. The fruit is 6 to 8 inches long and is rich in calcium, vitamin C and anti-oxidants. Seeds of Adansonia Digitata are used in Africa to extract edible oil whereas the fruit (separated from fiber and seeds) itself is used as nutritious food.

28 May

Lovely, Fruity Trees and Shrubs: Syzygium

Syzygium is a large genus of evergreen, ornamental trees and shrubs. Widely grown for their beautiful foliage, fluffy flowers and edible fruits, the genus of Syzygium comprises of some 1100 species. Most species grow natively in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific. Fruits of some species are edible and are used in preparation of salads, jams and jellies. Growing conditions vary among species. Although most species would grow in tropical climate, there are some species of Syzygium that grow in temperate zones.

Syzygium Luehmannii, Leaves and Fruits

Syzygium Luehmannii, Image from SydneyGreenRing blog

How to Grow Syzygium

Syzygium makes robust trees and shrubs that require pruning to make good ornamental plants. They can be propagated from seeds and softwood cuttings. These plants require constantly moist soil and bright sunlight. With suitable climate provided, Syzygium can be grown outdoor as well as indoors. Grown outdoors in gardens, Syzygium attract bees, butterflies and birds. They are good candidate for bonsai experiments.

Popular Species of Syzygium

Syzygium Paniculatum: Commonly known as Bush Cherry, Syzygium Paniculatum makes a nice ornamental tree that bears glossy green leaves and very attractive edible fruits of pink color. Young leaves are red and flowers are very attractive. With regular pruning, Bush Cherry can serve as an excellent hedge and neat specimen plant in lawns with regular pruning.

Syzygium Malaccense: Native to Asia, Syzygium Malaccense is a nice ornamental tree that grows as tall as 5 meters. Commonly known as Malay Apple or Rose Apple, this specimen plant bears large edible fruits that resemble the fruits of pear. It bears very attractive purple-red flowers in spring.

Syzygium Aromaticum: Known as Clove plant, Syzygium Aromaticum is grown commercially for its flower buds that are dried and use for culinary and medicinal purposes. Dried buds are known as Clove. The plant grows natively in Pakistan, Zanzibar, Madagascar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Local name of Clove in Pakistan is Laung where it is used as spice and as cure of dental pain.

24 May

Beautiful Landscape Tree, Pandanus

Pandanus is a large genus of about 600 trees and shrubs from Asia and Africa. Most plants in this species have broad and dense leaves. These deciduous plants produce male and female flowers on separate plants. Fruits resemble the fruit of pineapple plant. Pandanus are a good choice for planting outdoors for their handsome foliage. They also make spectacular container plants for ornamental purposes.

Pandanus Utilis, Landscape Tree

Pandanus Utilis, Landscape Tree

How to Grow Pandanus

Since most species of Pandanus grow alongside coastal belts, they require humidity and generous watering. Most species can be propagated from stem cuttings, offsets, tubers, or by layering.

Popular Varieties of Pandanus

Pandanus Utilis: Commonly known as Madagascar Screw Pine, Pandanus Utilis turns into a medium sized tree of about 20 meters. The trunk is stout and bears a canopy of twisted, fan-like leaves. Leaves are usually 2 meters or long. This is a perfect plant if you are looking for a striking landscape design. Grown for its leaves that are used for many purposes, Pandanus Utilis is evergreen tree and can be propagated easily from root balls, cuttings, or offsets.

Pandanus Utilis Fruit

Fruit of Pandanus Utilis