A nifty native

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fruit of the Simpson stopper
is brightly colored and at-
tractive to birds.

Among the Florida native plants surrounding the Museum House are Simpson stoppers, now bearing bright red berries that are attractive to a wide variety of birds. Stoppers are under story trees of the evergreen hammocks that generally bear small leaves, white flowers in spring, followed by orange or red fruit. Simpson stopper is Myrcianthes fragrans, and it is useful in a number of ways: as a small tree; in a grouping of other stoppers used as a screen; as a small tree beneath larger trees in a native planting. It has wonderful cinnamon-colored peeling bark. I use several of these, along with Spanish and white stoppers, along a fence, with a hedge of wild coffee planted in front of them. During our really dry spring, I had to water one of the trees that had wilted in the group.  I prune the coffee hedge about twice a year to maintain it at hedge level. I mulch with leaves from the oaks or black olive, and that’s that. Take a look at the planting on your next Fairchild visit, and make a note to add this to your landscape. It will be available at the 2009 Members’ Day plant sale on Oct. 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.