Gardening with Georgia

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A tree that is 'elegantly upholstered'

Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 02:17:35 PM

It sometimes is called the devil tree. But in her book Tropical & Subtropical Trees, An Encyclopedia, Margaret Barwick’s description of the October flowers makes it sound quite heavenly: “the deep green canopy is elegantly upholstered with large posies of greenish white slender-tubed blooms that are held rigidly erect in downy, long-stemmed, compact, heads that come from the axils of the leaves.”  It is Alstonia scholaris, and you should rush to see it. Its home range extends throughout India, south Asia, China and over to Australia. Grab a map and head to plot 151 on the south side of the Bailey Palm Glade,

Alstonia scholaris is in full flower right now.

or 57A (not far from the Lakeside Café). The entire tree is in flower! The tree is named for Dr. Charles Alston, a Scot who taught botany at Edinburgh University in the 18th Century. Scholaris refers to the fact that school children in India wrote their assignments on slates made of this light, white wood. Barwick, who lives part of the year in Grand Cayman and has friends here in Coconut Grove, says Mynah birds love the “untidy” and persistent follicles that follow the flowers.


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