Friday, July 24, 2009

Myrcianthes fragrans: Simpson's Stopper

When Richard Olsen (USNA Urban Tree Breeder/Scientist) learned that I had a place in Central Florida, the first plant he recommended was Simpson's Stopper. All the literature had raved about this plant and when I hear a unanimous consensus, even I generally get on board. This plant went in October 2007 (note: this is not a good time to plant as the 6 month dry season starts just a month or so later; it didn't even slow the Stopper down!). It was less than a foot tall, yet even at that size it had a few fruits. The orange/red fruits are edible though small with a citrusy taste. As the name implies, the (white) flowers are fragrant and occur throughout the growing season. They are apparently quite appealing to butterflies. I often see them on the flowers. The fruits are a favorite of birds. I have seen cardinals on them; I wonder if they aren't eating the fairly large seeds.

The plant itself is a roughly vase-shaped small tree/large shrub. I have planted it off the SE corner of the tool shed, siting it much as I would a Crape Myrtle. It's a great plant for landscaping. In the Myricaceae, its small evergreen leaves give off an intriguing fragrance when bruished. It has grown to ~4' in less than two years. You can almost watch the plants grow before your eyes down here, which is a good thing as many of us are not as young as we were 50 years ago.

No comments: