James H. Schutte
A medicinal crop of the western Pacific, kava is tropical evergreen shrub with heart-shaped, medium green leaves. The soft-wooded upright shrub has an open, spare branching habit and naturally exists in the understory of tropical forests. Its roots are mashed and used to make a calming traditional medicinal drink, but caution should be taken in ingesting kava as it can be toxic to the liver.
Its use can be traced to cultures in Polynesia, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia, and the center of...
Gerald L. Klingaman
(Pitcairn Bromeliad, Pitcairnia)
Arching leaves that resemble grass make a curious backdrop or umbrella to the flower clusters of fiery scarlet on this tropical perennial bromeliad. This evergreen, frost-tender plant hails from Colombia and Peru. Often the red flowers flop to the ground on weak stems, with the individual tubular blossoms angling upright to attract hummingbirds for pollination.
This Pitcairn bromeliad is terrestrial, growing in loose, well-drained sand or coarse organic matter on the tropical rainforest floor....
Carol Cloud Bailey
Blemishing lawns worldwide with its leaf rosettes and its rat-tail inflorescences, this hardy perennial is native to Eurasia but naturalized globally.
The dull green, paddle-shaped leaves have a broad oval blade and a long flattened stalk ("petiole"). Several deep parallel veins run from the base to the tip of the leaf blade. In summer, numerous homely spikes of greenish, wind-pollinated flowers are borne on shin-high stems. This semi-evergreen perennial spreads via self-sowing, which is often...
Gerald L. Klingaman
(Common Staghorn Fern)
Large, rounded leaves that look like shields are a backdrop to the antler-like fronds of the common staghorn fern. A cold-tender, evergreen fern, it is native from Indonesia to New Guinea and eastern Australia. It is an epiphyte - not growing in soil but upon another plant such as a tree branch, trunk, or even wedged in between rocks in a cliff.
Quite variable in its form, this fern has two types of leaves. The sterile leaves, those that will not produce spores, are rounded to heart-shaped and...
(Spurflower, Variegated Swedish Ivy)
This brightly variegate foliage plant for pots and hanging baskets is closely related to the popular creeping Charlie houseplant. The parent species is a tender perennial of tropical Australia and Fiji where it is rarely touched by frost. Its spreading habit and beautiful variegated leaves recommend this selection, ‘Marginatus,’ for planting in the ground in frost-free climates or as an annual in containers. This beauty bears bright-green, heart-shaped leaves with serrated, cream-colored margins....
Grown for its tubular periwinkle-blue flowers, cape leadwort is an evergreen shrub to woody vine that originates from South Africa. It has bright green, oval leaves that line loose, trailing stems. It blooms year round, except in coldest winters, bearing many five-petaled tubular blue blooms. These are attractive to butterflies and require no deadheading. White cultivars are also available.
Cape leadwort thrives in full to partial sun and prefers light, sandy soils with good drainage. It can...
The showy, delightfully fragrant flowers of these tropical American trees and shrubs are often seen in greenhouses, warm-climate gardens, and Hawaiian leis. The large, waxy, funnel-shaped flowers have broadly flaring white, yellow, pink, or red lobes and contrasting yellow or white throats. Bloom occurs mainly in summer and fall, but also sporadically at other seasons. Long pods containing plumed seeds follow the flowers. The thick fleshy branches and stems are weak and prone to breakage. Their fragile...
Gerald L. Klingaman
Plumeria alba or white frangipani is a native of Puerto Rico and other small islands of the Lesser Antilles. The branches and stems are thick and fleshy, but the thinnest of all frangipani species. They are upright forming a vase or umbrella-shaped tree and tend to be weak and break in high winds. The bark is tender and when cut or broken exudes, sticky, white sap which is an irritant. The deciduous leaves are elliptical to lance-shaped, leathery, margins rolled under and arranged spirally...
Forest & Kim Starr
(Obtuse Frangipani, Singapore Graveyard Flower)
The warm-season flowering obtuse frangipani is native to the Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles. The branches and stems are thick and fleshy. They are upright forming a vase or umbrella-shaped tree and tend to be weak and break in high winds. The bark is tender and when cut or broken exudes, sticky, white sap which is an irritant. The semi-evergreen leaves are elliptical to lance-shaped, leathery, arranged spirally around the stems at the ends of the branches, smooth and the smallest of the Plumeria...