2009 Members' Day Plant Sale

Annually during the past 71 years, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has distributed plants to Fairchild members for use in the South Florida gardens and landscapes. Once again the time has arrived for Garden members to enjoy an exclusive benefit of membership. Through the years, Fairchild's horticulture staff have observed, evaluated, and introduced beautiful, interesting, and diverse trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers to the community. A concerted effort has been made to identify plants that are well adapted to our climate and soils, are non invasive, and will provide a welcome addition to the yards and gardens of South Florida. There is an emphasis on uncommonly available or rare native species as well as introducing more common native plants to members who want to establish their own backyard natural habitats to attract butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Plants from other lands have been observed, monitored and carefully chosen to add to the assortment of plant choices for home gardens. The Distribution Plants have been grown in larger quantities than the other sale plants and are carefully selected for this program. While you may purchase up to four of the Distribution Plants there will be many other plants for sale. Plan an early start: lines form quickly, and while we have a good supply, it is not endless. Along with other staff members and knowledgeable volunteers, I'll be available to advise you on site selection, planting and growing these very special plants.

General Information

  • The Members' Day Plant Sale is for Fairchild Members only.
  • Unfortunately, members' guests may not purchase plants.
  • Location: the Palmetum, south of the Cycad Circle
  • Please park in the Lowlands. Enter through the North Entrance, drive to the Lowlands parking field, watch for signs. There will be shuttle service between the Lowlands parking, the Visitor Center parking and the plant sales area. The parking lot will open at 8:00 a.m. You may park your car and walk up to the Cycad Vista to wait in line until opening at 9:00 a.m.
  • You must show your membership card to purchase sale plants and distribution plants.
  • Each membership may purchase up to four distribution plants - limit one per species. These plants will be located in Plot 117 in numerical order according to their placement on the distribution list (see below) and handed out to members by staff and volunteers.
  • The sale plants will be located in the Palmetum in Plot 119 and the west end of Plot 117. The number of sale plants that may be purchased is unlimited, except for those plants with blue tags, which are limited to one per species.
  • We suggest that you bring a container, wagon or cart to carry your purchases to your vehicle. There will be plant valets to help you.
  • Unfortunately, we cannot pre-sell, ship or hold plants for members unable to attend.


You will need your membership card and the distribution list to purchase plants. Each membership may purchase four distribution plants. Limit one per species.

Distribution List

  1. Neomarica gracilis....................................$15.00
  2. Freycinetia cumingiana................................25.00
  3. Brunfelsia plicata.........................................18.00
  4. Pityrogramma calomelanos..........................18.00
  5. Pimenta racemosa......................................25.00
  6. Brunfelsia nitida..........................................18.00
  7. Schippia concolor.......................................20.00
  8. Vallesia antillana.........................................18.00
  9. Stemmadenia litoralis..................................22.00
  10. Caesalpinia granadillo.................................22.00
  11. Adenium obesum 'Black Ruby'...................15.00
  12. Coccothrinax crinita...................................25.00
  13. xRuttyruspolia 'Phyllis van Heerden'...........18.00


Neomarica gracilis, is a member of the Iris family native to southern Mexico through the northern half of South America. The attractive glossy leaves grow to about 2 feet tall. Lightly fragrant, showy blue and white flowers are produced from specialized leaves from fall through spring. Each flower lasts only a day but the same stem will produce more flowers a few days later. This delightful tropical iris makes a great border plant in a location receiving morning sun and light shade in the afternoon. This is a walking iris and small plantlets develop from the old inflorescence. These may be removed and planted in another location.

Freycinetia cumingiana, a member of the pandanus family, is a show-stopper each spring when it flowers in our conservatory. This species, from the islands of Polynesia, is a shrubby one which grows 8 to 10' tall. At the end of each stem, it produces very showy, unusual orange bracts which surround a cluster of stamens. We have found that this species prefers slightly acid soil. Freycinetias are forest plants so they require shade. It is a perfect candidate for growing in a large container under a pool enclosure or in a Florida room. Protect from temperatures below 50°. (May be seen in the Conservatory)

Brunfelsia plicata is a small, erect eight-foot shrub endemic to Jamaica. The sturdy, dark green leaves make a good background for the showy, white flowers. Appearing in profusion several times during the year, they waft forth a spicy, clove-like fragrance at dusk. Stems tend to be upright, but the uppermost ends of the branches cascade down, giving the plant a vase-like shape. Grow it where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade. (May be seen in plots 52 and 27.)

Pityrogramma calomelanos, native to tropical America, is one of the few ferns which can be grown in full sun without suffering leaf burn. Silver fern has fiddleheads and the lower frond surfaces with a powdery, white or silver cast. Easy to grow, this fern grows rapidly and may reach a height of 3-4 feet. Silver fern may be grown in full sun or partial shade. Avoid overwatering and allow plants to dry slightly between watering. Silver fern requires good drainage. (None in FTBG) 

Pimenta racemosa, the lemon-scented bay rum tree, is closely related to allspice. It is a small to medium sized tree native to Jamaica. The evergreen leaves, when crushed, emit a wonderful, lemon-bay rum scent. An oil is distilled from the leaves to make perfumes and colognes. The trunk and main branches have exfoliating bark which exposes lighter-hued inner bark. White flowers are followed by black oblong berries. This species may be grown in full sun to light shade. (May be seen in plot 45.)

Brunfelsia nitida, lady-of-the-night, is a shrub 4-6' tall and native to tropical America. The trumpet-shaped flowers, 4-5" long, are white at first and gradually turn shades of yellow. Masses of flowers are produced by the 4' tall shrub. It never shows any insect, disease or nutritional problems. It does not grow huge and need constant pruning. This shrub is called Lady of the Night because of its flowers' incredibly spicy fragrance, usually present only after dark, but I've discovered that as the flowers age over a few days, the fragrance is produced earlier each evening. I wish that I could bottle this wonderful essence and keep it with me always. Brunfelsia nitida is a great shrub for anyone's garden. It remains a tidy size, is not demanding in its care, can be in sun all day or half a day and produces masses of flowers intermittantly throughout the year. (May be seen in plots 41 and 8.)

Schippia concolor, silver pimento palm, is an elegant, small species native to both the open, dry pinelands and moist forests of Belize. The slender trunk has an open crown of deeply divided two-foot palmate leaves with leafstems two to six feet long. Showy, white inflorescences are followed by clusters of white fruit one-inch in diameter. This dainty palm may be grown in full sun to light shade. (May be seen in plots 106 and 107.) 

Vallesia antillana, pearlberry, is a dense shrub reaching eight feet tall at maturity. It is native to the Florida Keys, Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola. Considered endangered in Florida, this enchanting shrub produces white flowers that appear like small stars among the lush, dark green leaves. Elegant pearl-like fruits are produced throughout the warm months. Pearlberry is best grown in light shade. It is salt tolerant. Rarely Offered for Sale! (May be seen in plots 47 and 143.)

Stemmadenia litoralis, the Milky-way tree, is a perfect small tree for Florida landscapes. This was selected as the 2009 Fairchild Plant of the Year. Left to branch naturally, it will create a pleasing shape and produce flowers on every branch. The finely textured, light colored bark is an attractive contrast to the deep green leaves. The incredibly fragrant flowers begin to appear in late winter or early spring and continue through the summer into the fall. Each linen-white flower has five petals formed in a pinwheel fashion, overlapping in a counter-clockwise direction. The pale yellow throat draws the eye to the heart of this whirl where a star is formed by the joining of the petals. A delicate fragrance surrounds the area near the tree, evoking early-morning freshness. The Milky-way tree is native to Mexico to northern Colombia. Not fussy about water or sun, it can be grown in filtered light or full shade and needs no irrigation once established. (May be seen in plot 47.)

Caesalpinia granadillo, sometimes called bridalveil tree, is native to Venezuela. Not commonly available in nurseries, bridalveil tree may increase in popularity once people discover its outstanding characteristics. The fine-textured foliage combines with an upright-vase shape to form a canopy tree to 35' tall with few equals. Yellow flowers appear during summer and fall. The trunks are very showy with bark peeling off in thin strips to reveal an interesting green and grey mottling. Bridalveil tree is well suited for a residence, staying small enough to keep it from overtaking a property. It can be planted along a road or placed in a parking lot to create a nice canopy of soft foliage. Bridalveil tree should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil. The tree is moderately drought tolerant. (May be seen adjacent to the Visitors Center.)

Adenium obesum 'Black Ruby', desert-rose, is native to dry areas of Africa, including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. A member of the Apocynaceae family, desert-rose is a succulent shrub with an interesting swollen base. It is easily grown in a sunny, well drained location. Desert-rose is also an excellent container plant, thriving in a sunny hot location and is extremely drought tolerant. (May be seen in plot 135.) 

Coccothrinax crinita, native to Cuba, is one of the most beautiful and unique palms. Known as old man palm due to the long greyish fibers which cover the trunk, it grows slowly but is well suited to our limestone soils, hot sun and dry winters. Old man palm seldom grows more than 15' tall. The rich green palmate leaves form a beautiful crown. A soft breeze which shows the silvery undersides of the large fronds shining in the sunlight just adds to the beauty of this palm. (May be seen in plots 128d, 150, 107, and 172.)

X Ruttyruspolia 'Phyllis van Heerden' a shrub to 6' tall, is a natural, sterile bigeneric hybrid between Ruttya ovata and Ruspolia hypocrateriformis var. australis from South Africa. It produces showy clusters of lovely pink flowers from fall through spring. This plant has been in Fairchild's plant collection since 1982. It has proven to be pest free, an easy grower and attracts butterflies too! Plant this lovely shrub in full sun to light shade. You can call her Phyllis! (May be seen in plot 4.)


In addition to the Distribution Plants for 2009, the following specially selected sale plants will be offered. Most may be purchased in whatever quantities you wish; those with blue tags are limited to one per membership. It is first come, first served, so consider alternates. The sale plants are available in smaller quantities than the distribution plants described above. In addition, there will be many other species at the sale not mentioned here. My advice is to come early to get the best selection. We open parking in the lowlands at 8:00 am. Once parked, you may walk or ride a shuttle to the Cycad Vista where the lines form. The sale opens at 9:00 a.m. Many people bring their own plant cart or wheelbarrow. We will have plant valets to assist you.

Click on images to enlarge.

Petrea volubilis, known as Queen's wreath, produces masses of blue to purple flowers in spring and during other dry periods as well. Queen's wreath, reminiscent of wisteria, thrives in a hot, sunny location. This vine may be grown on a trellis, fence, or wall or trimmed as a scrambling shrub with no support. Pictured is a Petrea volubilis in Mary Collins' yard. (May be seen in plot 4.) 

Calliandra surinamensis, pink powderpuff, is native to northern South America. It is a shrub or small, tree with a vase-shaped habit to 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide. The fragrant flowers with showy pink and white stamens appear most heavily during winter and spring with additional flowering throughout the year. Pink powderpuff may be planted in full sun to light shade. (May be seen in plot 44.)

Russelia sp. was originally collected near the town of San Carlos in the Sierra Chiquita in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico in the 1990's. Several years ago, Craig Allen, our Conservatory Manager at the time, purchased three plants from Yucca Do Nursery. This species has proven to be a wonderful, everblooming border plant. Bright red flowers are produced on slender, arching stems. Hummingbirds visit the showy flowers. This plant will spread by rooting and forming new plants at the tips of the arching canes. It may be grown in full sun to light shade. (May be seen in plot 44.)

Pinanga coronata, ivory cane palm, is native to Java and Sumatra. It is a handsome, clustering species with ivory-hued crownshafts and leaf stems. Showy bright pink inflorescences with black fruit are produced among the broad pinnate mottled leaves. New leaves emerge with reddish mottling. A wonderful palm for South Florida, it should be grown in a shady, moist location. The ivory cane palm will also grow beautifully in a container on a shady patio. (May be seen in plots 132, 133.) 

Dietes grandiflora, native to South Africa, is a member of the iris family. The beautiful flowers are produced on erect, slender stems during the summer months. This plant is sometimes called "Fairy Iris" because the fragile white petals not only look like fairy wings, but also have a tendency to disappear mysteriously overnight. Plant in full sun to light shade. (May be seen in plots 49 and 38.)

Pavonia bahamensis, Bahama swamp-bush, is another favorite plant for both hummingbirds and warblers. Regardless of its common name, this plant is another tough, drought tolerant species. It grows 8 to 10 feet tall and produces small green-yellow miniature hibiscus flowers all year. Although they are not showy, the flowers are filled with nectar that hummingbirds can't resist. The Bahama swamp-bush may be grown in sun or shade. (May be seen in plot 26.)

Nashia inaguensis, commonly called Moujean tea, is a shrub to 8 feet tall native to the Bahamas. It is much branched, with tiny leaves that are aromatic when crushed. The young stems are red, becoming gray-brown. The tiny, fragrant white flowers are followed by small orange fruits nestled among the glossy leaves. We have found that the Atala butterflies and many others find Moujean tea hard to resist when in bloom. Grow in full sun. It is very drought tolerant once established.  (May be seen in plots 102, 164 and butterfly garden.)

Birds' nest type anthuriums are so easy to grow in South Florida. We have a great selection of these available for the sale such as Anthurium watermaliense, Anthurium dombeyanum, and more lovely birds'-nest anthuriums which are perfect for a container or tucked into the landscape in a location protected from intense afternoon sun. Anthurium watermaliense is an easy to grow birds-nest anthurium native to Central and South America where it may be found growing from sea level to over 5000'. The large, sturdy heart-shaped leaves to 2 feet long, dark purple inflorescence and bright orange fruit create a beautiful plant for container culture or planting in a well drained shady, moist location. (May be seen in the Conservatory.)

Neomarica caerulea, 2004 Fairchild Plant of the Year, is a tropical iris from Brazil with long, strap-shaped leaves forming a fan shape similar to temperate irises. Large, fragrant blue flowers appear every few days during the fall and winter, adding sparkle to the garden. It prefers morning sun and moist, fertile soil. It may be planted among other plants, and is a good edging plant. Our plants in the nursery have been blooming throughout this winter and early spring. Neomarica caerulea tolerates a wide range of soil and light conditions. (May be seen in plots 50 and 130.)

Jacaranda caerulea is native to the Bahamas. It is a smaller tree than the more commonly grown Jacaranda mimosaefolia and with more bold, shiny foliage. It is one of the most attractive ornamental trees native to the Bahamas with its panicles of blue-violet flowers appearing throughout late spring and summer. The crown is more narrow and upright than the more common Jacaranda, making it a great choice for small yards. This species prefers a sunny location and thrives in the soils of south Florida. Its furrowed bark makes this tree an excellent place to put epiphytic orchids and bromeliads among the branches. (May be seen in plot 164)

Plants native to South Florida 

Acacia pinetorum, known as pineland Acacia, is native to South Florida pine rocklands. One of my favorite native plants, during our dry season, this shrub to small tree is covered with yellow, incredibly fragrant flowers. Pineland Acacia should be planted in a sunny dry location. (May be seen in FTBG pineland.)


Coccothrinax argentata, known as silver palm, was selected as a 2008 Fairchild Plant of the Year. Watch Coccothrinax argentata as the undersides of its deep green leaves flash metallic silver and you will know why it is one of Florida's native gems. It is small but perfectly proportioned, with a five foot wide canopy of fan leaves sitting atop a trunk that is six inches thick. In late summer, two-foot long spikes laden with hundreds of small creamy-white flowers hang down from within the canopy. Small pearl-sized fruits follow the flowers, changing color from green to dark purplish black. Silver palm is a small, slow growing palm perfect as a specimen plant in a patio garden. It will thrive in a hot, sunny location. Salt spray is no problem either, as C. argentata grows naturally along the coastline. The only thing that can kill it is too much shade and water. (May be seen in plots 107, 150, 161 and FTBG pineland.)

Passiflora pallens, pineland passionflower, is a state listed endangered species native to some pinelands and sunny edges of hammocks in South Florida. It attracts several kinds of butterflies including Gulf frittalary, zebra longwing, and Julia. This vine grows best in a sunny location. Photo by Roger Hammer. (None presently in FTBG.)


Alvaradoa amorphoides, Mexican alvaradoa, is listed as endangered by the state of Florida. It is native to a few hammocks in the southern portion of Miami-Dade County and a few areas of Everglades National Park; the Bahamas, southern Mexico and Central America.  Mexican alvaradoa has small pinnate leaves and slender branches imparting an open airy texture. This is the host plant for the rare Dina Yellow (Eurema dina) butterfly in Florida. It is usually a shrub but may eventually grow into a slender tree to 20' tall. It is a dioecious species with female plants producing small pendant clusters of reddish, winged seeds. Mexican alvaradoa is drought tolerant, shade tolerant and a great choice for butterfly enthusiasts. (May be seen in plot 43.)

Canella winterana, wild cinnamon bark, is native to South Florida, the Bahamas and the West Indies. This small to medium sized evergreen tree reaches 25' tall, with a dense crown of glossy, dark green leaves. Clusters of small, dark red, fragrant flowers appear in spring through summer, followed by small, velvety red fruits, which ripen during winter and early spring. The dark red flowers and fruit nestled among the glossy green leaves are lovely. Birds eat the colorful fruit. Wild cinnamon bark grows well in full sun to shade and is moderately salt and drought tolerant. (May be seen in plot 51.)

Cordia globosa, butterfly sage, is a shrub to small tree native to south Florida. The small cup-shaped white flowers attract numerous butterflies, including Gulf frittalary, Atala, hairstreaks, ruddy daggerwing, and skippers and other insects as well. With so much insect activity, birds, including warblers, come to feed on the insects. Fruit-eating birds are attracted to the small, bright red fruit. The butterfly sage is a wildlife magnet! Grow in full sun to light shade. (May be seen in FTBG butterfly garden.)

Croton linearis, a native of South Florida pine rocklands and coastal areas, is commonly known as pineland croton. This 2' to 6' tall semi-woody shrub has dark green linear leaves with white or golden hairs on their lower surface. Small white flowers and small dry fruits which pop open when ripe are present all year. Pineland croton is the larval food plant for the Bartram's Hairstreak and the Florida Leafwing butterflies. This shrub grows best in a sunny, dry location. Once established it requires no supplemental irrigation. (May be seen in FTBG pineland.)

One of our 2008 Fairchild Plants of the Year, Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson's stopper, is a native of hammocks of south Florida and tropical America. This shrub or small tree grows to 20 feet tall. It makes a great hedge and is a low maintenance alternative to the commonly used ficus hedge. Simpson's stopper's silvery gray to warm brown bark naturally peels to reveal a smooth burnished copper colored inner layer. Crush the small, slightly leathery leaves and you will discover a pleasant aroma. Fragrant little white flowers are produced intermittently through the spring and summer. Showy red-orange fruit provide food for several bird species. Simpson's stopper will have a dense branching habit if grown in full sun. When grown in shade, the foliage is less dense and the trunk displays its attractive, smooth, exfoliating bark. Plant one near a feeder or bird bath for shy birds such as painted buntings and cardinals to use as a safe haven. (May be seen in plots 3b and 46.) 

Tetrazygia bicolor, one of our most ornamental native shrubs, may be seen in pinelands or persisting in hammocks as a small tree. Distinctive leaves have three to five longitudinal ribs. Young leaves are pink. Butterflies visit the showy white flowers which are produced in large terminal racemes during the summer, followed by black fruits in the late fall. Butterflies visit the flowers. The fruits are much sought after by birds. It may be grown in full sun to light shade. It is best grown in an area without supplemental irrigation. It does not tolerate pruning. (None presently in FTBG.)

Bourreria cassinifolia, smooth strongbark, is a Florida endangered species native to a few pinelands of south Florida and the Florida Keys. Strongbark is a shrub to 8 feet tall and about 6 feet wide. Small leaves, small white flowers and bright orange fruit attract butterflies to the flowers and birds to the fruit. The fragrance of the flowers is a wonderful, fresh, light but oh so nice perfume. If there was such a thing as smooth strongbark eau de cologne, I would be in line to buy a bottle! This shrub prefers a sunny location and does not require irrigation once established. (May be seen in FTBG butterfly garden and pineland.)

Muhlenbergia capillaris, muhly grass, is a native clumping species 18 to 36 inches tall and wide. One of our most ornamental native grasses, it produces beautiful cloud-like pinkish-purple plumes during the fall months. When not in bloom, its airy texture fits nicely into any landscape or garden. We have found that grasses go nicely when planted among palms. (May be seen in plots 123a and 54.)

Exostema caribaeum, known as princewood, is native to the Florida Keys, Bahamas, Central America, and the West Indies. Endangered in Florida, it is a small tree, seldom reaching 20 feet tall. Princewood has bright green recurved leaves and produces showy white flowers during our spring and summer months. Small woody capsules contain tiny winged seeds. This "prince" of a small tree is drought tolerant and grows best in full sun to light shade. If you are a native plant officianado, this is a tree you must have in your own garden. Princewood is small enough to fit in either a tiny yard or large estate. Photo by Roger Hammer.

Thrinax excelsa, Jamaican thatch palm, has a single trunk. It grows from 10 to 35 feet tall, with magnificent palmate leaves that reach seven feet across. The distinctive, large, glossy leaves make this an outstanding palm. It may be grown in light shade to full sun. Although they need no special care, it is advisable to stake young plants until established. In its native Jamaica, this species grows only in very well-drained sites far from the influence of salt spray.

For the entire list of Sale Plants click here

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me mcollins@fairchildgarden.org

Plot map of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden


Text and photos by Mary Collins 

Page updated September 29, 2009