What’s in Season - April 2019 - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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What’s in Season - April 2019

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2019 11:11 am

Spring greetings to all!

As I write, we are enjoying what will probably be one of the last “cool” evenings of the year. We have just passed the spring equinox, when the length of day and night are equal, and the official first day of Spring.

There’s a reason we call it that-- it is the time when plants spring up from the ground. Here at the Fruit and Spice Park we have a multitude of specimens putting on their best show for us. Some of these are quite impossible to miss, while others take a bit of looking but are spectacular in their own way.

Bangar Nut

First we have the absolutely unmistakable Bangar Nut, Sterculia foetida. Not only does it produce amazing bright red fruit, the flowers emit the sometimes overwhelming smell of mothballs. In full bloom, it is noticeable throughout the park. Later the fruit will open to release the oil-rich seeds and leave a bright red, heart shape husk, or follicle. It is fascinating that it can be so smelly that both its genus Sterculia and specific epithet foetida mean smelly! Sterquilinus was the Roman god of manure, and we have all heard the word fetid to describe something unpleasant. Our friend Linnaeus, who described this species in 1753, sure had a way with words. It is a large majestic tree, but don’t plant it outside your bedroom window! It can be found at the start of African section next to the Akee.

Cut Nut

The next showoff is the Cut Nut, Barringtonia edulis. This otherwise modest tree explodes with huge creamy colored flowers resembling bottle brushes. This flower emits a pleasant scent, and the seed has been described as tasting like water chestnut when raw. It truly is exotic and striking when in bloom. This beauty is tucked safely in our Asian greenhouse, on the west side near the Bilimbi.

Chamaedorea tepejilote

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to an often overlooked specimen, the Pacaya palm, Chamaedorea tepejilote. This pretty but unassuming palm is native to Guatemala and El Salvador. Resembling ears of corn, the immature male flowers, or inflorescences, are eaten, mainly raw in salads but also

battered and fried. In fact, the name tepejilote means “mountain maize” in the ancient Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. While the flowers may be tasty if not showy, the fruit that results is beautiful. The Pacaya may be found in the Tropical Americas fruit forest near the greenhouse.

Pacaya

We have managed once again to travel from Africa, through Asia, and back to the Tropical Americas.

Be sure to put our upcoming events on your calendar—one of my favorites is the Redland Blues and BBQ festival April 6-7 2019. We have added more music, more fun, and more BBQ this year!

I hope you enjoy the riot of color and scent that the end of Spring brings to the Park, but don’t forget to search out the less obvious treasures of our collection.

Not a day goes by here without a surprise!

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