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Robin Robinson - Citizen Columnist

Morning kisses, the short-lived bloomers

If a gardener reads sheet music, a skill developed in many grade school tonette class or church choir, she will recognize the bud of the musical note plant as a base-cleft quarter note, hence the shrub’s name. The plant has five other scientific names. Clerodendrum means fate and tree in Greek. Macrosiphon means a long[…]

Florida holds the title for most dangerous plants in the US

Many an unexpected death occurred throughout history from the tip of an arrow dipped in deadly Bahama nightshade (Solanum bahamense L.) Ponce de Leon got shot by a poisoned arrow from the Caribe Indians. An arrow was not the only method of delivery. Others drank a potent wine laced with nightshade. It has many names[…]

Lemongrass longs to please

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) will repair almost anything that ails a human. It is used with stomachaches, insomnia, coughs, fevers, exhaustion, ringworm, sores, urinary tract infections, joint pain, convulsions and muscle cramps. It is an anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and kills germs, anti-fungal, and is a detoxification remedy. If that isn’t enough, it lowers levels of triglycerides and[…]

Lucky, lucky bottle palm has abundance of charms

Rub the Buddha belly of the bottle palm for good luck. The palm looks like an antique bottle of Caribbean rum although it is from Southeast Asia. Its thick trunk is shaped like a bottle, but it does not store water.  Its descriptive, scientific name, Hyophorbe means pig fodder, evidently the fruit was fed to[…]

Mini-me pineapples grow in sand

Carmen Miranda made the pineapple famous by wearing one in her headdress. That was silly, but she was by no means laughable. She was the highest female moneymaker in the United States during the height of her success. She was not the only one to recognize the importance of the pineapple. Christopher Columbus in 1493[…]

Botanists name and rename the long stalked stopper

It is appropriate that the long stalked stopper is planted in front of the West Martello Fort as the Fort is a martello, a corruption of mortella, which means myrtle after the vegetation where the fort was built in Corsica. The long stalked stopper is in the Myrtle Family so it belongs in front of[…]

Black torch burns, baby

Black torch shrub (Erithalis fruticosa) is threatened in Florida because the coastal hammocks in which it grows have turned into condominiums. The loss of habitat has significantly reduced the number of medium to large, six-foot shrubs. It is buffer plant on the coastline with a high wind tolerance. It can hold its own on the[…]

Ground orchids are grown to survive

For those gardeners who say, “I have a black thumb. I kill all of my orchids,” the Philippine ground orchid is almost indestructible. As its name implies, this orchid is planted in the ground. Choose the right light and well-drained soil and it will thrive for many years spreading throughout the garden. There are 49[…]

Yes, Key West sure has a lot of trees, according to a recent report

Over one-third of the trees in Key West are of three varieties, coconut palms, silver buttonwood and Christmas palms. Seventy-seven percent of the 3,052 inventoried trees are smaller, younger trees that do not provide a high canopy, but do stay out of the wires and water pipes. Only two percent of the available tree-planting spaces[…]