Air plants?

The Tucker Greenhouse has a very nice collection of ‘Air plants’….Air plants sort grow in the air.  More accurately they kind of attach themselves, or hang on to other plants (epiphytes), and they get their water from rain, or humidity in the air.  They are members of the Bromeliaceae family, otherwise known as Bromeliads.  A well known epiphytic air plant is Spanish Moss.  It is found in the South Eastern US and often grows on Live Oak trees.    Bromeliads can be epiphytic, or terrestrial (grows in soil).  An economically important terrestrial bromeliad is the pineapple plant  The flowers of bromeliads are typically very colorful and showy, and their leaves are arranged in basal rosettes to ‘capture’ more water.  Leaves are often stiff, leathery and have serrated or saw-like leaf margins.

Bromeliads are native to the forests, deserts, and mountains of Central and South America.

colorfu flowers

Tillandsia sp. flowers found in the Bromeliaceae family


Random St. Patrick’s Day blooms & unusual leaves

green flowers

Small, tightly compacted flowers of Chenopodium quinoa or ‘Quinoa’ is found in the Amaranthaceae family and subfamily Chenopodioideae. This edible plant (seeds of Quinoa are very nutritious) is a ‘demonstration’ plant grown for Bio Sci 3210, Plant Systematics class.

purple flowers

Viola sp. found in the Violaceae family is another ‘demonstration’ plant for the Bio Sci 3210 class, Plant Systematics.  These flowers are actually edible.  Great in green salads!

pink flower

Bougainvillea sp. found in the Nyctaginaceae family is now in full bloom in the Tucker Greenhouse.  We have four very large plants, all in beautiful shades of salmon to pink

red flower

Gossypium sp. or ‘cotton’ is found in the Malvaceae family. It’s being grown as a ‘demonstration’ plant as well.  The flower is still undeveloped. What you are seeing are large, leaf-like bracts surrounding the undeveloped flower bud.  Once these blooms open, I’ll be posting more pictures of the flowers.

chocolate pod

This is a chocolate ‘bean’ growing on a Theobroma cacao tree otherwise known as ‘chocolate’. It is found in the Malvaceae family too.  When this chocolate bean is fully ripe, it will turn a bright orangish- yellow.  

white lemon flower

Citrus x meyerii, or Meyer Lemon found in the Rutaceae family has just started to bloom.

green leaves

Agave sp. leaves. Agave plants are found in the Asperagaceae family.  The indentations you see were created from previous leaves.  These indentations show up on the backsides of new leaves.



Today’s sample of cool sights in the Tucker Greenhouse

blue flower

Meet the herb Borage, otherwise known as                 Borago officinalis found in the Boraginaceace family.  This is one many demonstration plants growing in the Tucker Greenhouse for Bio Sci 3210 Plant Systematics class.

red stem

Cool stem & unopened flower buds on Hibiscus sabdariffa, found in the Malvaceae family, and another demonstration plant for Plant Systematics class.

pomegranate fruit

A developing pomegranate fruit on Punica granatum plant, variety ‘Fenton’ found in the Lythraceae family.


Tucker Greenhouse “Chewing Gum” tree

Manilkara zapota, commonly called Sapodilla or the Chicle Tree is found in the Sapotaceae family. This tree can grow to heights of 9 to 30 meters. When cut into, the bark of the Sapodilla tree oozes a sticky, white, gummy sap called ‘chicle‘, a substance from which chewing gum is made.

Tucker Greenhouse’s ‘Chiclet Gum tree’ is located in the tropical greenhouse on the west side of the room, right next to the pond.  Our specimen is a very small tree, with inconspicuous flowers.  The flowers were so inconspicuous that I never even saw the blooms.  What drew my attention to this tree were the large kiwi-like fruits hanging from its upper branches. The Chicle Tree/Sapodilla is native to Mexico and Central America. The kiwi-like fruit is a berry containing five seeds. The fruit flesh is pale yellow to brown and tastes a lot like a pear.

The history of the harvesting of ‘chicle’ is very interesting, and people have been harvesting it for hundreds if not thousands of years.  Mayan and Aztec Indians harvested chicle in pre-Columbian times. I was curious about how this was done, so I found this video of a ‘chiclero or chicle harvester

The two photos below are of sapodilla fruit and leaves.  Unfortunately, no pictures of flowers though.

brown fruit

Sapodilla fruit from the Chicle Tree

leaves and brown fruit

Leaves and fruit of Sapodilla

It’s Amaryllis blooming time!

pink & white tlower

Hippeastrum sp. or ‘Amaryllis’ found on the Amaryllidaceae family

side view of one of the flowers

Side view of one of the flowers

The Tucker greenhouse has lots of Amaryllis bulbs that produced healthy, strong leaves months ago.  Just two weeks ago, a bloom stalk emerged on one plant, then another.  Today these blooms have opened…..The flowers have six ‘tepals’, six stamens, and a three-lobed stigma.  They smell good too!