Saturday, November 26, 2011

Euphorbia tirucalli ...... Pencil Cactus


   pencil cactus or aveloz

               a dioecious succulent, cactus-like milky shrub eventually becoming a large tree, devoid of spines, to 10 m tall,  indigenous to Eastern & Southern Africa and used as a hedge in Brazil.  

The leaves are small and slender, up to 12 x 1.5 mm, rarely seen, as they fall very early.

The bracts are yellow and the flowers tiny,inconspicuous, and carried in clusters at the apex of the short branches or inthe angles of branches.

It has a a rangy, open growth habit, and is more valued for its novelty than the beauty of its foliage.

Pencil cactus can be trimmed back if they become too large, but be careful to  prevent irritation from the milky sap.
It can easily grow into a 6 foot specimen planted in a large pot. 

As with all succulents, it’s better to let it dry out rather than risk over watering and rot.

Cortijo Azahar has a small pot grown specimen from a cutting taken not much more than a year ago. 

The family name Euphorbiaceae and genus name Euphorbia were named in honour of a Linnaean hero namely Euphorbus, first century physician to King Juba of Mauritania. He is believed to have used plants of this genus as medicine.

The species name tirucalli was given by Linnaeus in 1753 as this was the name used by the natives of Malabar, a region of southern India.

The rubber-hedge has been so widely cultivated that it is now difficult to say where it occurs naturally and where it has been introduced.

Early traders and sailors carried plants from South Africa to India and the Far East, and the fact that these have all flourished, gives us some idea of the incredible resilience of the plant.
 This is a stunning variety named 'Firesticks' which we have not yet been able to locate. 

 It lacks the chlorophyl of it's parent. The best colour is produced in winter.                      

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chorisia insignis ..... Cream Silk Floss Tree

   cream/yellow/white silk flloss tree     

                         Flowering now in the garden is this lovely, young, drought tolerant tree originating from Southern Brazil and Argentina.  It begins flowering here in November  and continues until mid winter when the temperature falls too low and the leaves begin to drop.
The palmate leaves re-emerge in April.

Prominent spines cover the green/grey branches and trunk.

 The tree below is a large Chorisia Insignis that is located close to the "Plaza de la Marina" in Malaga,Spain.  At the base, this tree measures more than one meter in diameter.

 They are fairly common in the South of Spain along the Mediterranean coast, especially in Málaga. 
The reason that there are large specimens of tropical trees in Malaga is that there were several wealthy families in the city who owned shipping companies.
About 150-200 years ago, interest in Botany began to increase and these families had many different plants and trees brought back by their ships from tropical regions.
Most of these large family estates are now Public Parks and Gardens in Malaga.
Nearer to home, the 'Majeulo Garden' inAlmuñecar, just a twenty minute drive west of Motril, is known for its hundreds of palms and exotic trees that were brought here from all over the world. 
Each tree has an identifying name plate with it's species and originating country.        

Monday, November 21, 2011

Punica granatum ...... Pomegranate


 The Pomegranate native to the region of Persia and the western Himalayan range, and has been cultivated in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Russia, and the Mediterranean region for several millennia.

 The ancient city of Granada in Spain was renamed after the fruit
 during the Moorish period.

Illustration by Otto Wilhelm Thomé, 1885

Scientist, Professor Michael Aviram in Israel has shown that drinking a daily glass of the fruit's juice can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
"Pomegranate juice contains the highest antioxidant capacity compared to other juices, red wine and green tea".     Brimming with vitamins A, C, E and iron, the pomegranate has been cultivated since pre-historic times.

The Pomegranate is the Symbol of Granada and these symbols are found everywhere in Granada.

Learn a brilliant tip for keeping your fingers and countertop clean while getting out every last pomegranate seed.

How to easily de-seed a Pomegranate

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Euphorbia milii...... Crown of Thorns

  Crown of Thorns 

Flowering now,  but actually almost never out of flower, this  beautiful succulent is an asset to any garden.
From the family Euphorbiaceae, originally from Madagascar, it's popularity has seen it growing as a house plant in less favourable climates.

Bright-green leaves grow along its thick, thorny stems. Lower leaves naturally fall off as the plant ages. If your plant gets too tall and leggy, you can prune it back by half its size in spring. This will cause it to branch out. New stems will grow from below where the pruning cuts were made, making this succulent bushy and full.
Its flowers are actually bracts that last for several weeks and are available in bright pink, red, white or yellow. Today's hybrids produce more -- even bigger -- flowers than ever before.
Crown of Thorns flower dependably when they get enough light. They're easy to grow and drought-tolerant, prefering slightly dry, sandy soil. This succulent stores water in its thick stems just like a cactus, so it can be watered less frequently than other house plants. If its leaves turn yellow and fall off, cut back on the watering.

Sunny, mild & still, today's temperature reached 23º.