This post is one of those eclectic collections of plant profiles (like My "onion" plants post). It is a list of trees which I find intriguing, for one reason or another, and a short description of the trees. Only a couple of these trees have I ever grown before. And there are only a couple more that I would ever try to grow. The others won't grow in my region and are not suited to growing in a pot indoors. I narrowed down the list to my top 6, listed here in no particular order:
Sassafras - I visited the OU (University of Oklahoma) Greenhouses a couple of years ago. The caretaker, Cal Lemke, showed me a sassafras tree and had me sniff a leaf, not telling me what it was. The smell was unmistakable. Though, I admit, at the time I couldn't name what the smell was. But I knew the smell, nonetheless. When he said the tree was a Sassafras, I thought "Of course, that smells just like Root Beer!" The leaves of the Sassafras tree are uniquely tri-lobed. The tree has small yellow flowers, but is otherwise an ordinary-looking tree. I just think this tree is really neat because of the smell that is so evidently root beer-ish. I think I will try to grow this tree at some point. To top it all off, this tree can be grown in my zone and has wonderful fall foliage color.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Sassafras tree leaves - courtesy flickr member Muffet"][/caption]
Cacao tree - Let's face it: Chocolate is one of the greatest discoveries of mankind. I can't imagine having a Cacao tree of my own and processing the beans to make my own chocolate. I imagine it would be quite a task, but the rewards...? Well worth it! I might have to try growing a small specimen tree in a greenhouse. I'm not sure that I would be able to do all of the processing required to make chocolate from the beans, but I could sure try.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Cacao tree at the Foster Botanical Garden - Honolulu, Hawaii"][/caption]
Cork - How many trees do you know of that are harvested for their bark - and then they continue to grow and produce more to harvest? Just one that I know.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Cork tree - from http://www.marylandcork.com"][/caption]
Rainbow Bark Eucalyptus - If you haven't seen one of these in person, you almost have to assume they aren't real. I mean, really - rainbow stripes on a tree trunk!?! Come on - that's ridiculous!
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="420" caption="Rainbow bark Eucalyptus trees in Maui, Hawaii"][/caption]
Coconut Palm - This is one of the trees I have tried to grow - "tried" being the most important word. Twice, in fact. I've mentioned those failures before on this blog. The Coconut Palm simply requires more light than I can offer on a year-long basis. The light requirements are easy to meet in the summer, but the winter is another story. This tree makes the list (regardless of my difficulty growing it) because of it's initial growth habit. The tree literally sprouts from a full-sized coconut. It is a really cool looking oddity of a tree at about 4-6 feet tall and a definite conversation piece - though I wouldn't suggest sitting it on your coffee table.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="375" caption="Coconut palm tree sprouting from the coconut - courtesy flickr member Bemep"][/caption]
Ginkgo tree - I have wanted to grow this tree ever since I saw once in its solid yellow Fall coloring at a local nursery. I should have just bought it that day. I guess I didn't because it was about 15 feet tall and I was driving a small car and it was priced more than I could afford. I also didn't have an adequate space for it. The tree is gorgeous in the Fall and the leaves have a very unique shape, unlike any other tree that I know.
Ginkgo trees are thought to be one of the oldest tree species still growing. The species is thought to have existed at least 270 million years, back to the Jurassic period.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="512" caption="Ginkgo biloba leaves in Fall color - courtesy Flickr member Rozanne"][/caption]
Other trees receiving votes:
As with the AP Sports voting, I have accumulated a list of other trees that, while not making the list of top six, got some votes. It's an "honorable mention" sort of award:
- Rubber plant (mine is really more of a plant than a tree).
- Olive tree (though one of my favorites, this tree is too widely known and grown to make the list).
- Baobab tree (probably on anyone else's crazy-cool tree list, but I don't have any desire to grow this one). There is a really funny segment on the BBC Planet Earth DVDs of the filming of the Baobab trees.
- Banyan trees (Some of my absolute favorite photographs are pictures of the tree roots entangled within and growing over the ruins of Angkor Wat. There are several famous Banyan Tree groves across the globe, including several I saw recently in Hawaii. The largest one I have seen takes up a whole city block in Lahaina on the island Maui, Hawaii.).
What would you put on your list of "intriguing trees?"