Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Zoo or Arboretum?

Fall is a wonderful time to visit the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.  The animals are okay but their plantings are what really interest me.  Today, my four year old grandson and I spent a few hours walking and playing at the zoo.  

They use lots of natives shrubs and trees with some  tropicals tossed into the mix.   The one thing all the plants seem to have in common is they're easy care and fairly drought tolerant. 

I thought this combo was especially striking.   Ti plant behind a line of firecracker bush.  I don't know what the small tree(s) on the right rear is - it looks similar to a Texas mountain laurel.  It was about to bloom and the flower seems to be white.   Here is an up close look at it below.

This planting bed also contains the mystery tree in the back right.  An orchid tree towers over the bed lined with ruellia. 

The canopy of this Kapok tree is a showstopper this time of year.    But most of the year it's the trunk that gets all the attention.
The thorns on this trunk always draw comments
Vasey's Adelia (above) is another showstopper.  I can't think of any native tree that I didn't see today: cedar elm, mesquite, Texas persimmons, chapote, ebony, Western soapberry, Texas sabal, and shrubs like pigeon berry, Turks cap, native poinsettia, and others  that I don't know by name  

This is another little tree I need to identify.  Check out the bloom below.  

Mesquite and bougainvillea - native and tropical - both staples in the Rio  Grande Valley

Texas Persimmons or Chapote tree.  This native is dioecious, meaning female and male flowers appear on different plants.  What it means to us is that we need a male and female tree if we want fruit.   The fruits have tons of seeds making them not to good for people-eating, but good for jellies.    

Persimmons fruits - they look like a miniature pomegranate

Texas sabals behind Huisache trees.  Great contrast in both color and texture.  

If you want to get to know the native trees, a trip to the Gladys Porter Zoo will give you an opportunity to see just about all of them!

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