Frangipani

FrangipaniPlumeria obtusa (Apocynaceae) Characteristics Small tree, up to 5 m tall. Leaves dark green, glossy, up to 20 cm long, teardrop-shaped. Flowers white with yellow throats and each has five petals, fragrant, bloom in clusters. Flowers are most fragrant at night to attract moths and produce no nectar, tricking the pollinators who inadvertently pollinate them…

Traveler’s Tree

Traveler’s TreeRavenala madagascariensis (Strelitziaceae) Characteristics Monocotyledonous plant, up to 30 m tall, in the Zingiberales order, related to Heliconia (#82, #83), Musa (Banana, #24), Zingiberaceae (Ginger, #44, #109) and Strelitzia (Bird-of-paradise). Sometimes called “Traveler’s palm”, it is not a palm (Arecaceae). The enormous, 20-35, paddle-shaped leaves, up to 11 m long, are borne on long…

Rubber tree

Rubber treeFicus elastica (Moraceae) Characteristics Large tree, up to 40 m tall (rarely up to 60 m). Trunk develops aerial and buttressing roots to anchor it in the soil and help support heavy branches. Broad, shiny, oval leaves (10-35 cm long and 5-15 cm broad). The younger the plant, the larger the leaves. As with…

Bush clockvine

Bush clockvineThunbergia erecta (Acanthaceae) Characteristics Erect, evergreen shrub, up to 2 m tall. Leaves small, ovate, dark green, opposite. Thin, brown stems. Flowers slightly fragrant, dark blue to purple, yellow throat. Grows in full sun to partial shade. Distribution Native to Western Africa, but commonly cultivated in India and other tropical and subtropical regions as…

Peregrina

PeregrinaJatropha integerrima (Euphorbiaceae) Characteristics Ornamental, evergreen, rounded or narrow domed, succulent shrub or small tree, up to 4 m tall. In cultivation usually smaller. Grows in frost-free climates. Leaves glossy-green, lobed to oval. Clusters of scarlet flowers with bright yellow stamens year-round. Distribution Native to Cuba, but widely grown as ornamental in many tropical and…

Sweet basil

Sweet basilOcimum basilicum (Lamiaceae) Characteristics Annual, sometimes perennial herb, 30-150 cm tall. Many varieties of the species. Used for its leaves (culinary, folk medicine), which contain a number of essential oils and are richly green and ovate, 3-11 cm long and 1-6 cm wide. Basil grows a thick, central taproot. Flowers are small and white.…

Tongue ferns

Tongue fernsElaphoglossum serpens (Dryaptoeridaceae) Characteristics Elaphoglossum is a mostly tropical fern genera with over 600 species. It is one of the most diverse genera of ferns. They feature large unlobed leaves, not unlike Asplenium, Pyrrosia (which is also called Tongue fern) or Lepisorus. In some species, the leaf is short, wide and thick and quite…

Stiff Jasmine

Stiff JasmineJasminum simplicifolium (Oleaceae) Characteristics Distribution Natural Medicine Properties No known. Did you know? Further reading: Here Literature World Flora Online WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families A working list of all plant species www.worldfloraonline.org www.wcsp.science.kew.org www.theplantlist.org

Pineapple

PineappleAnanus comosus (Bromeliaceae) Characteristics Small, herbaceous, perennial shrub, up to 1.5 m tall. Short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves. Unpollinated flowers (up to 200) fuse to form a multiple fruit. The fruit of a pineapple is usually arranged in two interlocking helices. Typically, there are 8 helices in one direction and 13 in the…

Sugarcane

SugarcaneSaccharum officinarum (Poaceae) Characteristics Perennial grass, 2-6 m tall, about 5 cm in diameter. It has stout, jointed fibrous stalks that are rich in sucrose, which accumulates in the stalk internodes. Sugarcane accounts for 79% of sugar produced; most of the rest is made from sugar beets. Distribution Native to the warm temperate to tropical…