The South Florida Plant Guide calls this plant a “dream of a tree”. In other words it is another favorite flowering tree.
Leaves are large and prolific on each plant. They are palm-like, glossy and tightly arranged around a center single stalk. This is not a palm at all, but its own species, Cycad. This was near the Spanish Moss shown a few posts ago; so when looking at the center I was not certain whether the “fuzz” was fallen Moss or apart of the plant. It turns out the plant is a female (yes, there are separate female and male Cycads) with seed resting inside a fuzzy cushion.
This striking plant is a frequently found garden species in southern regions of the U.S. This one was in the Alfred Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee, Florida. Cycad has many names and a Japanese ancestry.
Formally it is known as Cycas revoluta (Syotetsu [Japanese ソテツ], sago palm, king sago, sago cycad, Japanese sago palm). Cycad means “curled back” referring to the leaves’ downward curve.
“Female plants produce a round, felt mass in the center of the leaf mass. Bright orange to yellow seeds mature on the female plant during mid-summer to fall.”
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a part of the prairie terrain in Chicago’s Lincoln Park outside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The blooms with prolific, pollen-laden anthers caught my attention. If a plant could scream, “Here I am, come visit me” this is what it was silently yelling to passing insects.
Popular with more than insects, during the American Revolution, the leaves became the alternative tea source replacing British varieties. New Jersey Tea has been a long time medicinal choice of Native Indians and a current favorite of herbalists. What will remain unmentioned is that is part of the Buckthorn family whose members include the Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), an aggressive European invader.