A rare sight

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Female flowers of Alvaradoa

One of South Florida’s rare trees, Mexican alvaradoa (Alvaradoa amorphoides) is blooming at the Garden in plot 43, which is near the Visitors Center. This small tree is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate trees. Male flower spikes are long and dangling; females are shorter and fatter, with each small green capsule being an ovary. The tree is one of the host plants for the Dina Yellow butterfly (Pyrisita dina). The other host is bitterbush, (Picramnia pentandra). Alvaradoa ranges from Mexico through Cuba to South Florida. The trees are able to endure in dry conditions; I grow mine without twice-weekly irrigation. It sits in the far corner of the back yard, along with a few other native plants, all of which must compete with roots and shade from a neighbor’s Ficus benjamina hedge. Alvaradoa grows fairly rapidly, with long, skinny branches and compound leaves, and a taller-than-wide silhouette. If you plant this rare tree, a rare butterfly may find it.