Eternal Beauty of Nature

Posts tagged “Trees

Albizia saman – Rain tree – Ajaytao


Albizia saman - Rain tree - Ajaytao

Albizia saman – Rain tree – Ajaytao

Common name: Rain Tree, Coco tamarind, Acacia preta, French tamarind, Saman, Monkey pod, Arbre á la Pluie, Cow Bean Tree, Giant Thibet, Inga Saman, Algarrobo, Acacia, Akasya, Palo de China, Cow tamarind, False powder puff, French: Gouannegoul, arbre depluie, Fiji: Vaivai Ni Vavalagi,Vaivai Ni Vavalagi, Japanese: America-nemu, Guam: Trongkonmames. Hawaii: Ohai, pu ohai, Tongan: Kasia kula, mohemobe

Hindi: गुलाबी सिरिस Gulabi Siris, Vilaiti siris
Bengali: Biliti siris • Tamil: Amaivagai, Thoongumoonji maram

Synonyms: Samanea saman, Acacia propinquaMimosa saman, Pithecellobium saman, acutifolium Benth, Samanea (Benth.) Merr, Samanea,

Botanical name: Albizia saman, Samanea saman, Pithecellobium saman,

Family: Fabaceae (Touch-me-not family)
Genus: Albizia
Species: A. saman

Albizia saman (sometimes treated under the obsolete name Samanea saman) is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to the Neotropics. Its range extends from Central America, Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, through Guatemala to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil to Peru, Hawaii, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Marianas. but it has been widely introduced to South and Southeast Asia, India to Sri Lanka as well as the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii. Common names include saman, rain tree and monkeypod It is often placed in the genus Samanea.

Large, handsome and spreading, the Rain Tree is easily recognised by its umbrella like canopy of evergreen, feathery foliage and puffs of pink flowers. It is frequently planted in groups or as an avenue because of its ability to keep its symmetrical conformation in spite of prevailing winds.

It is a tree of rapid growth, brought originally from Central America to Sri Lanka and forwarded from there because it was considered to be a tree of great value for railway fuel. It often reaches a height of 27 m. and the strong, spreading branches may be nearly as long. The bark is dark grey, often bearing horizontal weals and the trunk frequently branches quite low down. From March to May and again towards the end of the year the green canopy is dotted all over with pink and white. During the rest of the year, too, there are usually quite a few flowers to be seen. The flowers appear like round, silken tufts, but actually each flower stalk bears one central and a surrounding circlet of florets, up to twenty in number. Each has a tube-shaped calyx and a tiny, yellow-lobed, crimson trumpet; bunches of long stamens, half pink and half white, protrude from each. The leaves fold in rainy weather and in the evening, hence the name “rain tree” and “five o’clock tree” (Pukul Lima) in Malay Hujan-hujan meaning “rain”, but in India it is believed that the name was given because of a curious habit possessed by the tree of intermittently spraying the ground beneath with moisture.

Albizia saman - Rain tree - Ajaytao

Albizia saman – Rain tree – Ajaytao

Several lineages of this tree are available, e.g., with reddish pink and creamish golden colored flowers. The long, heavy leaves are twice pinnate and each pinna, of which there are four to eight pairs, bears from three to seven pairs of leaflets. These are oval and have no stalks, becoming larger and more curved towards the end. on its thickened base so that the leaves all lie sideways. Later it was discovered that this was caused by multitudinous minute insects. The fruit is a fleshy pod, sweet to the taste and much relished by squirrels, horses and cattle. Although generally planted as a shade tree and ornamental, it has been naturalized in many countries and is greatly valued in pastures as shade for cattle. Short-boled, with a spreading crown when open grown, it forms a long, relatively straight stem when closely spaced. Its wood is highly valued in some locations for carvings and furniture.

The Monkey Pod tree is called this perhaps because monkeys are fond of the pods and sit in the trees eating them. The tree’s name in Greek. During his 1799–1804 travels in the Americas, Alexander von Humboldt encountered a giant saman tree near Maracay, Venezuela. He measured the circumference of the parasol-shaped crown at 576 ft (about 180.8 m[3]), its diameter was around 190 ft (about 59.6 m), on a trunk at 9 ft (about 2.8 m) in diameter and reaching just 60 ft (nearly 19 m) in height. Humboldt mentioned the tree was reported to have changed little since the Spanish colonization of Venezuela; he estimated it to be as old as the famous Canary Islands dragon tree (Dracaena draco) of Icod de los Vinos on Tenerife. The tree, called Samán del Guère (transcribed Zamang del Guayre by von Humboldt) still stands today, and is a Venezuelan national treasure. Just like the dragon tree on Tenerife, the age of the saman in Venezuela is rather indeterminate. As von Humboldt’s report makes clear, according to local tradition, it would be older than 500 years today, which is rather outstanding by the genus’ standards. It is certain, however, the tree is quite more than 200 years old today

The tree has nyctinastic leaf movements like Choi-Moi or the Tickle Me plant; its leaves close and curl up at night so that any rain that falls hits the ground more easily than it would under a tree with ordinary leaves. The pods and flowers are nitrogen rich and when they fall and decay, the nitrogen goes into the soil. Plants need this to make chlorophyll which gives them their green colour, so perhaps this is why there is lush vegetation under the Rain tree. Farmers like the trees because they are nitrogen fixers and they also grow quickly, the durable, hard wood is sustainable and eco-friendly so can be used for furniture and hand-carved bowls and decorative pieces. In Thailand the tree is host to the lac insect from which we get shellac.

Albizia saman - Rain tree - Ajaytao

Albizia saman – Rain tree – Ajaytao

The flowers attract honey bees as well as birds, moths and other insects, and locals enjoy the honey produced from the nectar, but it is only consumed in the locality of the growing trees.

Medicinal Uses

Saponin-like alkaloid pithecolobin has been isolated from the bark and the seed.
· Alkaloids are said to be abundant in the bark, stems, leaves, and seeds.
· Leaves and stems have saponin and tannin; gum from the trunk.
· Pods are rich in starch and sugar, with a fair proportion of albuminoid substances.
· Bark has no tannin. Trunk yields an inferior gum.

It is used as an Antipyretic, antimicrobial, stomachic, astringent, antidermatoses, laxative, antimalarial, sedative.

In the Philippines, a decoction of the inner bark or fresh cambium and leaves is used to treat diarrhea. Acute bacillary dysentery, enteritis, diarrhea: use 15 to 30 gms dried material in decoction. Also for colds, sore throat, headache. A decoction of the inner bark or fresh cambium and leaves is used to treat diarrhea. Anaphylactic dermatitis, eczema, skin pruritus: use decoction of fresh material and apply as external wash. Latex used as gum arabic for gluing. Seeds chewed for sore throat; inner bark decoction and fresh leaves used for colds and diarrhea.
In Pakistan infusion of leaves used as laxative. Decoction of inner bark used for diarrhea, colds, and intestinal ailments. In Jamaica leaf infusion used for treating blood pressure. In Tropical Africa seeds are chewed for treating gum and throat inflammations. In Venezuela rain tree is a traditional remedy for colds, diarrhea, headache, intestinal ailments and stomach ache. Root decoction used in hot baths for stomach cancer. In the West Indies, the leaf infusion is used as a laxative and seeds chewed for sore throat. The alcoholic extract of leaves used for tuberculosis. In Columbia, the fruit decoction is used as a sedative.

Modern medical research has shown that the Monkey Pod tree has antibacterial and anti-fungal activities and can fight Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and E. coli infections. An alcohol extract of the leaves may inhibit Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but more research is needed.

In the West Indies the leaves are chewed to relieve toothache, and a root decoction is used in hot baths in Venezuela for stomach cancer. An infusion of the leaves is given for constipation and in the Philippines a decoction of the inner bark and the fresh leaves is given for diarrhoea. A boiled bark poultice is used to cure constipation too. It is another of Nature’s wonderful health-giving trees.

Edible: Mesocarp of the fruit is sweetish, sometimes eaten by children.

Wood: Rain Tree wood, Kayu, Suwar (or Suar), is a form of Mahogany and is a much higher quality of wood to carve with than cheaper types of wood like Kayu Pule, Kayu Sandat, or Kayu Cempaka. The Scientific name for Suwar/Suar wood is Samanea Saman and it is commonly known in the English as Rain Tree wood. Another common name for the Rain Tree is Monkeypod relating to the fact that it has seed pods which are edible. Popularly used in carving, making tables, wood basins and bowls. Hats are made from the shavings of the wood. Resistance to biodegradation is reported to vary, but the wood is durable under water. The heartwood is rated as resistant to attack by termites. The material is prone to blue-stain. The heartwood is golden-brown to dark brown in color. Wood vessels contain shiny, brown deposits.

Furniture, Cabinetmaking, Turnery, Interior trim, Carvings, Turnery, Veneer, Bedroom suites, Building materials, Chairs, Chests, Concealed parts (Furniture), Core Stock, Decorative veneer, Desks, Dining-room furniture, Dowell pins, Dowells, Drawer sides, Figured veneer, Fine furniture, Floor lamps, Furniture components, Furniture squares or stock, Hatracks, Interior construction, Kitchen cabinets, Living-room suites, Millwork, Moldings, Office furniture, Plain veneer, Radio, stereo, TV cabinets, Rustic furniture, Stools, Tables , Trimming, Utility furniture, Wainscotting, Wardrobes, Woodwork

Fodder: Seasonally copious pods with sweet pulp that can be grounded and converted to fodder and alcohol as an energy source. It is a valuable source of feed for cattle and horses. It is also an important honey plant like most mimosaceous trees.

High sugar content of the pod can be utilized for producing alcohol by fermentation.

Ajaytao Photography



Ixora coccinea – Jungle geranium – Ajaytao

Ixora coccinea - Jungle geranium - Ajaytao

Ixora coccinea – Jungle geranium – Ajaytao

Common name: Ixora, Jungle geranium, Cambodia: Kam rontea, Indonesia: Santan, Malay: Pechah priok, Vietnam: Dun trung quoc, dun do
Hindi: Rugmini रुग्मिनी

Botanical name: Ixora coccinea
Family: Rubiaceae (coffee family)

Ixora coccinea or jungle geranium, flame of the woods, and jungle flame) is a species of flowering plant in the Rubiaceae family. It is a common flowering shrub native to Southern India and Sri Lanka. There are about 400 species spread from Africa to India to Southern Asia. It has become one of the most popular flowering shrubs in South Florida gardens and landscapes. Its name derives from an Indian deity.

Ixora coccinea is a dense, multi-branched evergreen shrub, commonly 4–6 ft (1.2–2 m) in height, but capable of reaching up to 12 ft (3.6 m) high. It has a rounded form, with a spread that may exceed its height. The glossy, leathery, oblong leaves are about 4 in (10 cm) long, with entire margins, and are carried in opposite pairs or whorled on the stems. Small tubular, scarlet flowers in dense rounded clusters 2-5 in (5–13 cm) across are produced almost all year long.

Related to the gardenia and coffee plants, Ixora is said to be native to Asia and whose name derives from an Indian deity. They differ in leaf size, plant height, flower size and flower color. This plant which blooms throughout the year is easy to grow. The flowers are found in a wide range of colours. Plants are of two types- large; with height around 1 meter and dwarf or miniature plants. Miniature ones have small leaves and are bushy. Ixora flowers last well when picked and put into a vase with water, making an attractive home arrangement. Ixora flower has traditionally been associated with enhanced sexuality and the re-kindling of passion.

Ixora coccinea - Jungle geranium - Ajaytao

Ixora coccinea – Jungle geranium – Ajaytao

Water Ixora as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not muddy. Although the plant prefers moist soil, it may rot in excessively soggy soil. Water the shrub sparingly during the winter months.

Feed Ixora in early spring, using an acidic fertilizer formulated for Ixora, azalea and gardenias, which has a ratio such as 4-8-8, along with minor elements that are beneficial. Repeat in midsummer and autumn. Acidic fertilizer is especially important if the foliage takes on a yellowish cast, indicating a magnesium deficiency caused by improper soil pH. Apply the fertilizer according to label specifications, then water deeply.

Spread at least 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch such as pine needles, compost, shredded leaves or bark chips, on the soil around the Ixora plant to conserve soil moisture and help maintain a proper acidic soil pH. In spring, remove the mulch along with the top crust of soil. Replace the removed mulch and soil with fresh mulch.

Prune Ixora after blooming slows in late autumn or anytime the shrub looks untidy. Prune each shoot down to just one bud or prune the shrub as needed to create the size and shape desired. Izora shrubs tolerate pruning well and can be trimmed back by several inches without harm. However, many gardeners prefer to leave the shrub unsheared for a more natural appearance.

Protect Ixora from aphids and scales. Aphids are tiny, green insects that congregate at joints of the leaves and stems or the undersides of the leaves. Scales are hard-shelled insects that give the foliage a waxy appearance. Regular application of an insecticidal soap spray or neem oil usually helps to control both pests.

Although there are around 500 species in the genus Ixora, only a handful are commonly cultivated, and the common name, Ixora, is usually used for I. coccinea. I. coccinea is used in warm climates for hedges and screens, foundation plantings, massed in flowering beds, or grown as a specimen shrub or small tree. In cooler climes, it is grown in a greenhouse or as a potted house plant requiring bright light. I. coccinea is also grown in containers, looking very distinguished as a patio or poolside plant. This tight, compact shrub is much branched and tolerates hard pruning, making it ideal for formal hedges, although it is at its best when not sheared.

Ixora coccinea in Thiruvananthapuram, India.

There are numerous named cultivars differing in flower colour (yellow, pink, orange) and plant size. Several popular cultivars are dwarfs, usually staying under 3 ft (1 m) in height. Ixora ‘Nora Grant’ is a popular dwarf and ‘Super King’ is a popular hybrid with much larger flower clusters than the species. Many new cultivars and hybrids of I. coccinea have come to market in the last couple of decades, leading to a resurgence in popularity for the beautiful flame-of-the-woods.

Phytochemical studies indicate that the plant contains the phytochemicals lupeol, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, sitosterol, rutin, lecocyanadin, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and glycosides of kaempferol and quercetin.

Medicinal uses

The flowers, leaves, roots, and the stem are used to treat various ailments in the Indian traditional system of medicine, the Ayurveda, and in various folk medicines. The fruits, when fully ripe, are used as a dietary source.

Used for dysenteric diarrhea and associated colic pains.
Flowers used for dysentery and leucorrhea.
Poulticed fresh leaves and stems for sprains, eczema, boils and contusions.
Diluted tincture of roots for mouthwash and gargles for sore throat.
Flower decoction used for hypertension, amenorrhea and irregular menstruation, hemoptysis, catarrhal bronchitis.
Decoction of leaves for wounds and skin ulcers.
Flowers and bark used for blood-shot eyes, dysentery.

Considered internally sedative, stomachic, tonic, antiseptic, cholagogue; externally, astringent and antiseptic.

Hepatoprotective, chemoprotective, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory.

Stimulates gastric secretions.

Flowers considered cytotoxic, hepatoprotective, antimicrobial.

Ajaytao Photography

Cordia Sebestena – Scarlet Cordia – Ajaytao

Cordia Sebestena - Scarlet Cordia - Ajaytao

Cordia Sebestena – Scarlet Cordia – Ajaytao

Common name: Orange Geiger Tree, Scarlet Cordia, Sebestena Plum Tree,, Geiger Tree, Sea Trumpet, Spanish Cordia, Ziricote, Texas Olive, Geranium tree, large-leaf geiger tree, bois râpe – French, Scharlach-Kordie –German, Sebestenenbaum – German, Sebesteira-verdadeira – Portuguese, Anacahuita – Spanish, Anaconda – Spanish, siricote blanco

Hindi: लाल लसॊड़ा Lal Lasora, Bohari
Bengali: Kamla buhal, Raktarag

Botanical name: Cordia Sebestena

Family: Boraginaceae (Forget-me-not family)
Subfamily: Cordioideae, Cordiaceae Ehretiaceae
Genus: Cordia
Species: C. sebestena

Cordia sebestena is a species of flowering plant in the borage family, Boraginaceae, that is native to the American tropics. and is cultivated in Southeastern U.S.A.: Florida, Southern Mexico – Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Caribbean: Bahamas; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Haiti; Jamaica, Mesoamerica: Belize; Honduras; Panama, India and many tropical and subtropical countries of the world. Geiger Tree (after Key West wrecker John Geiger) in Florida.

Scarlet cordia is a small shapely tree which grows up to be 25 feet tall and as wide. It is native to the northern coast of South America. This plant, on account of its large tubular scarlet flowers, is one of the most beautiful of the West Indian trees. This dense, rounded, evergreen native tree grows slowly to a height of 25 feet with an equal spread and can develop a trunk 12 inches thick. The large, seven-inch-long, stiff, dark green leaves are rough and hairy, feeling much like sandpaper. Appearing throughout the year, but especially in spring and summer, are dark orange, two-inch-wide flowers which appear in clusters at branch tips. The splendid flowers are followed by one to two-inch-long, pear-shaped fruits, which have a pleasant fragrance but are not particularly tasty.

Cordia Sebestena - Scarlet Cordia - Ajaytao

Cordia Sebestena – Scarlet Cordia – Ajaytao

Cordia (which means late) was named for father and son German botanists/pharmacists/physicians Euricius Cordus (1486-1535) and Valarius Cordus (1515-1544.) Euricius (Heinrich in German) was a professor and the 13th son of a farmer named Urban Solden. As number 13 little Heinrich was called the “late one” or in Latin Cordu. He kept the name as a last name when he Latinized his name as many educated people of that age did, going from Heinrich Urban Solden to Euricius Codus. His son, Valarius Codus, died at 29 of malaria while in Rome but had already established himself as a intellectual heavyweight of his age. His posthumous publications bolstered his reputation even more. Sebestena if from Sebesten, a name given to a related tree with similar fruit.

Cordia sebestena is widely planted throughout the tropics and subtropics as an ornamental plant in gardens because of its flowers. It has dark green, oval shaped leaves, and grows oval shaped fruits that are edible, but not flavorful. Cordia sebestena tolerates drought but not frost.

Flower color: orange
Flower characteristics: very showy

Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: white/gray, green

Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit, leaves a litter problem.

Geiger-Tree is quite salt- and brackish-water tolerant, making it ideal for use in coastal landscapes as a free-standing specimen, patio or framing tree. Most specimens are seen as multitrunked and low-branching but nurseries can produce single-trunked trees suitable for downtown and parking lots. It has been used as a street tree in some communities but drops leaves as a drought-avoidance strategy in prolonged dry spells. According to legend, the common name was bestowed by Audubon in commemoration of John Geiger, a Key West pilot and wrecker of the 19th century and is now used quite universally as the common name for this excellent Florida native tree.

Growing in full sun to partial shade, Geiger-Tree is tolerant of light, sandy, alkaline soils and salt-spray. It is highly recommended for seaside plantings. Do not plant where there is the slightest danger of frost.

Cordia boissieri is frost-resistant (tolerating temperatures in the high 20’s) and has stunning white flowers with yellow centers.

Propagation is by seeds or layering.

Kou haole, Geiger tree - with Fruit - Ajaytao

Kou haole, Geiger tree – with Fruit – Ajaytao

The Cordia sebestena has been planted through much of the warm world for its scarlet flowers and edible white drupes. While the fruits are edible their smell is better than they taste.  They are also fibrous. The tree also has a long medicinal history. Where it is from is a debate, from Cuba to the West Indies to South America. The teapot tempest rages on. The fruit of the C. alliodora is also edible. Fruit is juicy and edible raw (not the seeds) Cooking improves the flavor.


Mites, scales, and caterpillars will occasionally attack Geiger-Tree. The geiger beetle defoliates the tree upon occasion but the trees generally grow out of it and do fine. The problem can be locally troublesome.

Medicinal Uses

Essential oils have been reported to possess various medicinal properties in folkloric medical practices. Their application in modern medicine has also increased recently. Syrup of the bark, flowers, or fruit is taken for coughs and bronchial ailments. Teas made from the flowers are used to treat venereal disease. The tree’s sap is applied to wounds. Leaves washed in warm water or dressed with oil are used as poultices for headaches and sprains. Unripe fruit are emetic.

The chemical composition of the essential oil from the stem bark of Cordia sebestena obtained by hydrodistillation was determined using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and analyzed for its free radical scavenging potential using the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assay.

A total of nineteen compounds were identified with the major compounds being 9-octadecene (E) (20.26%), 5-octadecene (E) (18.68%), 9-eicosene (13.99%), cyclopropane, nonyl (12.42%), 3-eicosene (E) (7.29%), phenol, 2,4-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl) (4.71%), 1-nonadecene (3.17%), 7,9-di-tert-butyl-1-oxaspiro(4,5)deca-6,9-diene-2,8-dione (2.70%), and 2,6-diisopropylnaphthalene (2.17%). The DPPH radical scavenging potential of the oil was higher than the standard, butylated hydroxyanisole, with IC50 of 2.00 ± 0.31 μg/mL and 47.00 ± 1.27 μg/mL, respectively. At 50 μg/mL, the antioxidant potential of the butylated hydroxyanisole was 75% whereas the oil had 82% free radical scavenging activity. Several hydrocarbons contained in the essential oil may have contributed to the aromatic and antioxidant properties of the plant. The hydrocarbons could be useful for chemotaxonomic characterization of Cordia sebestena.

The essential oil may be further explored for its potential as an antioxidant contributor in food and phytotherapeutic medicine.

Ajaytao Photography




Turnera Ulmifolia – Yellow Alder – Ajaytao

Turnera Ulmifolia - Yellow Alder - Ajaytao

Turnera Ulmifolia – Yellow Alder – Ajaytao

Common name: Yellow Alder, Yellow Buttercups, Buttercup Bush, Sage Rose, Cuban Buttercup, Bankers Bush, Politicians Flower

Botanical name: Turnera ulmifolia
Family: Passifloraceae (Passion Flower family)

Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Turnera
Species: T. ulmifolia

Native to the West Indies and Mexico, Yellow Alder is a perennial, dense, compact shrub that reaches feet in height. Dark green leaves are clustered toward the tips of the branches, lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate or narrowly elliptic, 4-13 X 2-3 cm, margins doubly serrate.

Turnera ulmifolia occurs on all island groups in the Bahamian Archipelago as well as Florida, the entire Caribbean region, India, Srilanka, and almost all tropical and subtropical regions throughout the entire world.

The 5 cadmium yellow petals of the buttercups wide face, but form a funnel for the center with filaments in a matching yellow color. The flowers close up at night and open when the sun hits them. This opening and closing gave them several nicknames of Bankers Bush and Politicians Flower because the flowers open at 10 and close by 2. Flowers turn to tiny insignificant fruits, which turn to seed and will re-seed on their own. The actinomorphic flowers are arranged solitarily in leaf axils. The flowers are subtended by 3 bracts. The calyx has 5 fused green sepals. The corolla has 5 unfused yellow petals. There are 5 stamens, each fused to the base of a petal. The ovary is superior with a single locule and many seeds. The fruit is a capsule at maturity. Flowers are bright yellow buttercups, which look great against the dark-green foliage. The blowers might be slightly brownish towards the center. It can become tall and leggy if not pruned. In the landscape it performs well in mass plantings, as a border or as a groundcover. It also works well in butterfly gardens. Yellow alder is propagated by seed, cuttings or division.

Turnera Ulmifolia - Yellow Alder - Ajaytao

Turnera Ulmifolia – Yellow Alder – Ajaytao

One detects a slight aromatic fragrance, and see butterflies and pollinators all around. It is a must have plant for any butterfly garden. Bees and Butterflies love-love-love any nectar from its tasty little flowers. One enjoy’s watching Honey bees, Long tailed Skippers, White Peacocks and Sulphur butterflies hovering, basking and sipping on one flower to the next.

Many stems originate close to the ground but they branch infrequently forming an open, leggy plant. Those in the full sun branch more and stay fuller than those in partial shade. Clear yellow flowers are produced daily, each lasting several hours before closing at night. New flowers open the next morning. Leaves stay dark green with little or no fertilizer.

Blooming Time: Blooms sporadically all year long; The yellow blooms are 2½ inches across and last only one day.

Culture: Turnera ulmifolia do best in a well-drained potting mix (1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite). They like intermediate temperatures of 60 to 85 degrees, but can take higher day time temperatures if shaded from hot afternoon sun. In the greenhouse, we grow them under 25% shade all year long. The plants need a fair amount of water to keep from wilting on hot days. Fertilize weekly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. During winter months, water should be restricted and fertilizer applications should be once a month. The leaves of this plant have a pungent odor when crushed that some people find offensive.

Propagation: Turnera ulmifolia is propagated by seed, cuttings, or by division. It is best to start seed in spring. Cuttings can be rooted any time of the year, roots easily in water or moist sand. Divisions should be taken in spring when new growth emerges.

Space plants several feet apart to form a ground cover in one season. To thicken the plant, cut stems back when they become leggy to force new branches close to the ground. To use as a low maintenance plant, consider locating alder alone as an accent in a shrub border or in a ground cover to display its natural open habit. It will display its bright yellow flowers on the outside edge of the plant without pruning. Alder seedlings often germinate near the plants and can become weeds in the landscape.

Plant yellow alder in the full sun or partial shade for best form and flowering. Plants appear to adapt to a variety of soil conditions including alkaline pH and dry sites. Freezing temperatures kill plants to the ground, but warm spring weather brings them back to life in central and south Florida.

Turnera Ulmifolia - Yellow Alder - Ajaytao

Turnera Ulmifolia – Yellow Alder – Ajaytao

Pests and Diseases

White flies are often found on the foliage. Severe infestations can injure the plants. Aphids and scales can also infest the foliage, but they are usually not too serious. A recent study found that yellow alder potentiated the antibiotic activity against methicillin—resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Medicinal Uses:

Turnera ulmifolia is used medicinally in the Bahamas to treat gastrointestinal problems (constipation, diarrhea), colds and flu, and circulatory problems (heart palpitations), infant care (gripe), ob/gyn issues (menstrual cramps), and dermatological issues.

New laboratory evidence suggests that yellow alder (Turnera ulmifolia) extract may enhance the effects of antibiotics in the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is a type of bacteria that does not respond to treatment with certain antibiotics, including ampicillin (Principen®) and other penicillins.

Researchers tested the effects of an extract made from the Brazilian herb yellow alder, alone and in combination with antibiotics, against MRSA. They found that the herb alone did not have significant antimicrobial activity. However, when combined with other antibiotics (kanamycin and gentamicin), the anti-MRSA effects were significantly improved.

“Extracts from Turnera ulmifolia could be used as a source of plant-derived natural products with resistance-modifying activity, constituting a new weapon against the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics demonstrated in MRSA strains,” The authors concluded in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Although these early results are promising, additional research in humans is needed to determine if this is a safe and effective therapy.

Traditionally, yellow alder has been used an anti-inflammatory and expectorant, although human evidence is limited.

Preliminary lab studies published earlier this year suggest that compounds in marijuana and honey may also have antibacterial effects against MRSA infections. However, more research is needed in humans before conclusions can be made.

MRSA is a serious medical condition that requires medical treatment. Integrative therapies should not replace or delay treatment with more proven techniques or therapies.
Ajaytao Photography

Tabernaemontana divaricata – Crape Jasmine – Ajaytao

Tabernaemontana divaricata - Crape Jasmine - Ajaytao

Tabernaemontana divaricata – Crape Jasmine – Ajaytao

Common name: Crape jasmine, Moonbeam, Carnation of India

Botanical name: Tabernaemontana divaricata
Genus: Tabernaemontana
Species: divaricata

Hindi: Chandni चांदनी , Tagar तगर, Tagari तगरी
Gujarati: Sagar Marathi: Ananta, Tagar

Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)

Synonyms: Tabernaemontana citrifolia, Tabernaemontana coronaria,

Crape jasmine, a shrub very common in India, generally grows to a height of 6 ft. However, it can also grow into a small tree with a thin, crooked stem. Like many members of the Oleander family, stems exude a milky latex when broken. The large shiny leaves are deep green and are 6 or more inches in length and about 2 inches in width. Crape jasmine blooms in spring but flowers appear sporadically all year. The waxy blossoms are white five-petaled pinwheels that are borne in small clusters on the stem tips. This plant is a moderate grower for full to part sun, though it actually prefers partial shade and will flower there. Its ultimate height is about 8 feet tall with a 6 foot wide top.

The crape jasmine tree – with its pretty form and exquisite, sweetly-scented flowers – makes a wonderful accent anywhere in the landscape…even in part shade. Sometimes spelled “crepe jasmine” – or called “cape jasmine” – these are actually shrubs that can be used as hedges or specimen plants in bush form, but as a small ornamental tree of 8 feet or less they’re at their best.

With its ruffled-edge, white double flowers, this plant creates a big show of blossoms in spring and then blooms on and off through summer. Their fragrance is stronger by evening, making this a desirable small tree near a patio, screened lanai or pool cage.

Similar in looks (though the fragrance is different) to gardenias, crapes can be somewhat easier care – more cold-tolerant and less prone to insect invasions.

Tabernaemontana divaricata - Crape Jasmine - Ajaytao

Tabernaemontana divaricata – Crape Jasmine – Ajaytao

Evergreen with large, shiny, deep green leaves, this jasmine (though not a “true” jasmine – at one time everything with a sweet-smelling flower was called jasmine) is moderately cold hardy, doing best in Zone 10A and warmer areas of Zone 9B.

Plant care

Plant with either top soil or organic peat moss in combination with composted cow manure as soil amendments. The crape jasmine tree needs regular waterings. Trim occasionally to shape.

Flowers are commonly used in pooja (Religious ceremony) in north and south India. A jasmine tree can be placed close to the house – as near as 3 or 4 feet away. If you’re planting a row or grouping, place them 3 to 5 feet apart. Give it a spot sheltered from winter winds. Though a colder winter may defoliate the plant, it should flush back out in spring.

Blooms: Mid Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer. Blooms repeatedly.
Foliage:Evergreen, Aromatic

Crapes will grow in large containers as long as watering is regular and sufficient.

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Plumeria obtusa – Frangipani – Ajaytao

Plumeria obtusa - Frangipani - Ajaytao

Plumeria obtusa – Frangipani – Ajaytao

Botanical name: Plumeria obtusa
Family: Oxalis variabilis Jacq.
Genus: Oxalis variabilis Jacq.
Species: Oxalis

Common name: Plumeria, West Indian Jasmine, Pagoda Tree (Far East), Seemai arali, Dead Man’s Fingers (Australia), Flower Of The Cross, Frangipani, Graveyard Tree (Caribbean Islands), Singapore Frangipani
Sanskrit: चाम्पेय Champeya, हेमपुष्प Hemapushpa, चंपक Champaka
Hindi: गुलैन्ची Golenchi, गुलाचिन Golachin, चम्पा Champa
Marathi: चाफा Chafa

Plumeria is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae.It contains seven or eight species of mainly deciduous shrubs and small trees. They are native to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America as far south as Brazil but can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, however, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.

Plumeria obtusa - Frangipani - Ajaytao

Plumeria obtusa – Frangipani – Ajaytao

Plumeria species may be propagated easily from cuttings of leafless stem tips in spring. Cuttings are allowed to dry at the base before planting in well-drained soil. Cuttings are particularly susceptible to rot in moist soil.

In order to get the most from a plumeria plant with respect to growth, size, blooms, and scent, there is a fine balance that must be maintained. Ideally, a plumeria is in its element when it can have plenty of sun and appropriate water, so as to maintain soil moistness just above a state of dryness.

On the other hand, if the plant receives a lesser amount of sun, then a lesser amount of watering is necessary – again, to ensure that soil moistness stays just above the dry state. The more sun, the more water. The less sun, the less water. A common mistake of novice plumeria growers is to overwater the plant when it is not able to be exposed to enough sun, thereby resulting in a rotted root system. Conversely, if a plumeria plant is able to receive maximum exposure to the sun, but they aren’t watered enough, the plant will die.

Plumeria obtusa - Frangipani - Ajaytao

Plumeria obtusa – Frangipani – Ajaytao

These are now common naturalised plants in southern and southeastern Asia. In local folk beliefs they provide shelter to ghosts and demons. The scent of the Plumeria has been associated with a vampire in Malay folklore, the pontianak; frangipani trees are often planted in cemeteries. They are associated with temples in both Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

In several Pacific islands, such as Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga, and the Cook Islands Plumeria species are used for making leis. In modern Polynesian culture, it can be worn by women to indicate their relationship status – over the right ear if seeking a relationship, and over the left if taken.

P.alba is the national flower of Nicaragua and Laos, where it is known under the local name “Sacuanjoche” (Nicaragua) and “Champa” (Laos).

Plumeria is related to the Oleander, Nerium oleander, and both possess an irritant, rather similar to that of Euphorbia. Contact with the sap may irritate eyes and skin.

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Mexican Oleander – Thevetia peruviana – Ajaytao

Mexican Oleander - Thevetia peruviana - Ajaytao

Mexican Oleander – Thevetia peruviana – Ajaytao

Common name: Mexican oleander, Lucky Nut, geeloleander (Afrikaans)
Hindi: Peeli kaner पीली कनेर • Bengali: Kolkaphul

Botanical name: Thevetia peruviana
Family: Apocynaceae (oleander family)
Genus: Thevetia
Species: T. peruviana
Synonyms: Thevetia neriifolia, Cascabela thevetia

Mexican oleander is a large shrub or a small tree, up to 10 to 20 feet tall with Oleander-like leaves mostly in whorls of three, long and narrow up to 10 inches long. Tip of leafs are pointed with a dark green color. Flowers are generally yellow, but there are varieties with white and orange flowers too. Fruit is small, containing two to four flat seeds. Flowers bloom from summer to fall. The long funnel-shaped sometimes-fragrant yellow (less commonly apricot, sometimes white, Coral/Apricot, Bright Yellow,Cream/Tan) flowers are in few-flowered terminal clusters. Its fruit is deep red-black in color encasing a large seed that bears some resemblance to a ‘Chinese lucky nut.’

Traditional uses have included treatment of swelling, leprosy, eye diseases, and skin disorders. Despite the danger, oleander seeds and leaves are used to make medicine. Oleander is used for heart conditions, asthma, epilepsy, cancer, painful menstrual periods, leprosy, malaria, ringworm, indigestion, and venereal disease; and to cause abortions. A fixed combination of oleander leaf powdered extract, pheasant’s eye fluid extract, lily-of-the-valley fluid extract, and squill powdered extract has been used for treating mild heart failure.Oleander has been used as an abortifacient. Oleander extracts have been used in China to treat neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

The anti-cancer effects of oleander extracts are being investigated largely in in vitro cell line models. Anvirzel (Ozelle Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), an aqueous extract of Nerium oleander, is currently being studied in phase I trials for its antitumor effects.

Mexican Oleander - Orange - Thevetia peruviana - Ajaytao

Mexican Oleander – Orange – Thevetia peruviana – Ajaytao


Thevetia peruvians is a very poisonous plant of central and southern Mexico and Central America. It is a close relative of Nerium oleander, if ingested may experience pain in the mouth and lips, may also develop vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, nausea and bradycardia shortly after ingestion.

The term “Oleander” refers to two common plant species, Nerium oleander (common oleander) and Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander), which grow in temperate climates throughout the world. Both species contain cardiac glycosides with digoxin-like effects, and both species are toxic with well-described reports of fatal ingestion. Recent evidence suggests that the use of activated charcoal may be beneficial in cases of oleander toxicity or overdose. Otherwise, it is often suggested to manage toxicity similarly to other cardiac glycosides such as

A known instrument of homicide, and gained popularity as an agent used in suicide attempts in Sri Lanka in the 1980s. The “cardiotonic” effects of oleander were investigated in the 1930s, but this use was largely abandoned due to significant gastrointestinal toxicity and a perceived narrow therapeutic to toxic window.

A few bird species are however known to feed on them without any ill effects. These include the Asian Koel, Red-whiskered Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Brahminy Myna, Common Myna and Common Grey Hornbill.

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Leea coccinea ‘Rubra’ – Hawaiian Holly – Ajaytao

Leea coccinea 'Rubra' - Hawaiian Holly - Ajaytao

Leea coccinea ‘Rubra’ – Hawaiian Holly – Ajaytao

Common name: Red Leea, Hawaiian Holly, West Indian Holly
Botanical name: Leea coccinea ‘Rubra’

Genus: Leea Species: Coccinea
Family: Vitaceae (Grape family)

Species: Coccinea
Synonyms: Leea rubra

Leea (Tagalog: Talyantan) is a genus of plants that are distributed throughout Northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea, South and Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. Leea contains approximately 70 species and is placed in the Vitaceae family.

Red Leea is a very attractive shrub with decorative foliage and large groups of colorful flowers with petals which are bright red outside and yellowish inside, followed by black fruit. This plant is a tropical erect shrub. This plant is a tropical erect shrub. The specific name “rubra” fits it perfectly: the entire plant has red pigments, leaves, petioles, inflorescence, everything. But it also has eye-catching red blooms.

The genus was named by Linnaeus after James Lee, the Scottish nurseryman based in Hammersmith, London who introduced many new plant discoveries to England at the end of the 18th century.

It´s a 1.8-2,5m tall shrub with composite leaves and a thick foliage. The burgundy leaves are beautiful per se, and most people cultivate this species for the foliage. But it has a great bloom, a bright red and compact inflorescence with pink or white small flowers.

It grows in light shade. Can be grown in full shade, as well, but then, it will be especially vulnerable to parasites. Needs well drained soil, high temperatures, and moderate watering.

Leea coccinea is an underused gorgeous plant that looks similar to Nandina but is more tropical preferring warmer climates. Leea make great house plants as well. Trim to encourage bushy growth. Stems are also purple.


Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Pollen may cause allergic reaction

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