Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ficus mysorensis

A few days ago, I mentioned that banyan trees can grow to hundreds of feet tall. This is another large fig tree, a Mysore fig whose scientific name is Ficus mysorensis. This species is a native tree of Mysore, India. Mysore was the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore until 1947 at which time the Kingdom of Mysore was changed to the State of Mysore. The State of Mysore was changed to Karnataka with the passing of the States Reorganization Act in 1956 but was not renamed until 1973. Mysore is now the second largest city of Karnataka in southern India.

One of the distinctive feature of this species is that their roots can grow quite high above ground. Big trees like these can vie to be named champion. A 115 year old Mysore fig in Estero, Florida (near Ft. Myers) earned the title of Florida State Champion with a height of 97 feet. Its roots protrude a good 6 feet above ground. Although not a champion, this tree is quite impressive.
Crape Myrtle

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lagerstroemia indica

Lagerstroemia indica, commonly known as Crape myrtle or Crepe myrtle, is a genus of around 50 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs native to the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, northern Australia and parts of Oceania, cultivated in warmer climates around the world. It is a member of the Lythraceae, which is also known as the Loosestrife family. The genus is named after the Swedish merchant Magnus von Lagerström, who supplied Carolus Linnaeus with plants he collected.

The deciduous crape myrtle is among the longest blooming trees in existence with flowering periods lasting from 60-120 days. Crapes come in heights as short as 18 in and as tall as 40 ft. Leaves are alternate and smooth, but leaf size depends on variety. Flowers are borne in summer in big showy clusters and come in white and many shades of pink, purple, lavender and red.

These trees are on SW 67th Avenue, just North of 92nd street. They look better year after year.
Crape Myrtle

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Government Cut

Government Cut is a man made shipping channel between Miami Beach and Fisher Island, which allows a direct access to the Port of Miami in Miami, Florida. Before the cut was established, a single peninsula of dry land stretched from what is now Miami Beach to what is now Fisher Island, and boats destined for the port at the mouth of the Miami River had to pass around Cape Florida, to the south of Key Biscayne.

Opened in 1905, the cut across the peninsula that is now Miami Beach was authorized by the U.S. government (hence the name), in order to provide a direct route from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the seaport on Biscayne Bay to the west, without having to take a detour southward. The cut across the mangroves and beach at the southern end of the peninsula created Fisher Island, which, except for the extreme northeast corner, is part of unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida. The now famous South Beach is to the north of the cut.

This shot taken at 5:33PM today is from South Pointe Park. I got robbed and was charged US $25 to park in here where it should have been a free parking lot... Well, I was tipped to come here today to take a shot of a departing cruise ship so I was not about to be denied of this privilege for a mere $25! And here it is... The Carnival Valor was sailing out of its port of call via Government cut. You see Fisher island with its expensive condominium on the other side of the ocean water. If you are really interested to know where I was sitting, feed 25.7665,-80.136167 to http://maps.google.com. So, where does this big boat go today? It was set to deliver a 7 Night Exotic Western Caribbean Cruise to its riders, going to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. Here is its schedule:

Day Location Arrival Departure
1 Miami, Florida -- 04:00 PM
2 Fun Day At Sea -- --
3 Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 07:00 AM 04:00 PM
4 Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan 12:00 PM 07:00 PM
5 Belize City, Belize 08:00 AM 05:00 PM
6 Cozumel, Mexico 08:00 AM 05:00 PM
7 Fun Day At Sea -- --
8 Miami, Florida 08:00 AM --

Thank you, Gary, for your suggestion for my blog of today. It was worth the $25 parking fee.
Carnival Cruise

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ficus elastica

On May 16th, I showed a Magnolia grandiflora tree with a magnificent immaculate white flower. A reader thought it might be instead the flower from a rubber fig. That was not really the case, and that prompted me to show you this photo of a true Ficus elastica, also called the rubber fig, rubber bush, rubber plant, or Indian rubber bush, which is a species of plant in the fig genus, native to northeast India and southern Indonesia. It is a fat bush in the banyan group of figs, growing to 130 ft tall, with a stout trunk up to 7 ft in diameter. The trunk develops aerial and buttressing roots to anchor it in the soil and help support heavy branches. It has broad shiny oval leaves up to 14 in long and 6 in width; leaf size is largest on young plants (such as this one,) and much smaller on older trees. The leaves in this photo measure to more than a foot on average. The rubber plant does not produce highly colorful or fragrant flowers to attract other pollinators. The flowers look like open multiple stem stars with yellow crests. However, I have never seen any flowers on the rubber figs growing in Miami.

Rubber Fig

Friday, May 27, 2011

Keitt Season

'Keitt' is a Florida mango which has become one of the world’s most outstanding and sought after fruit. Excellent eating quality, disease resistance, reliable high yield, and late ripening time are some of the features of this four to five pound Goliath. While the fruits are extremely disease resistant, the juvenile trees are very difficult to grow due to disease problems so this veteran tree is valuable, and its fruits come every year without fail. This is not my tree, but half of it intrudes on my side so I usually help myself with my share of it. The real problem is that the birds and squirrels get to them way before they are ready in late September, October when the fruits really are ripened properly.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chevrolet 3116

I saw this vintage car in my rear view mirror this morning and had to take extraordinaire risks to snap a few decent photos of it. It carries the name "Chevrolet 3116" in chrome on its sides. I believe this is a 1957 Chevrolet 3116 Suburban Carryall that traced its roots to a model first introduced in 1935 and at the same time, had some elements of what we'd recognized today as a sport-utility vehicle. Its cousin was the Chevrolet 3106 Suburban Carryall.

Chevy's 1935 Carryall predated the modern all-steel station wagon by over a decade. Back then, it was nothing more than a panel delivery truck with windows in place of solid panels. However, it was all steel, and a lot easier to maintain than the conventional woody wagons of the time. The Carryall continued as Chevy trucks evolved from single-purpose workhorses, to civilized transportation in the mid-1950s, to upscale Chevrolet Suburban SUVs in the 1980s, but they always remained truck-based. Carryalls began to get civilized in 1955, with up-to-date car-like styling touches. The 1957 Chevrolet 3106/3116 Suburban Carryall was a mild facelift from the 1955-1956 models, led by a "floating" trapezoidal grille.
Chevrolet 3116

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hak Ip Too Tempting

Meet my Hak Ip lychee, fruiting for the first time. I took this photo this morning and planned to sample the fruits in a few days, waiting for them to ripen some more. Lo and behold, my yard men did not want to wait so they went ahead and helped themselves. Fancy that! Lucky they left me a few bunches so I can still know how they taste like.

Hak Ip lychees were introduced into South Florida just prior to hurricane Andrew in August 1992, and since have experienced widespread commercial plantings and are just now beginning to come into significant production here. This fruit has many desirable characteristics in a lychee: great flavor, large size, small seed and nice coloration. Lychee trees are monoecious meaning that an individual tree produces both male and female flowers. On the other hand, tropical fruit trees such as guavas, passion fruits, sugar apples, sapodillas and citrus produce flowers having both male and female sexual parts on the same flower, not like the lychees.
Former Parrot Jungle

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pinecrest Gardens

I miss the former Parrot Jungle that used to be here. Now it's changed to Pinecrest Gardens which is a 20-acre (81,000 m2) park in Pinecrest, Florida on the corner of Southwest 111th Street (Killian Drive) and Southwest 57th Avenue (Red Road). I used to get breakfast at the Parrot Jungle that started in 1936 until they relocated to the city of Miami's Watson Island in 2003. Now, the new Pinecrest Gardens includes a variety of sites including botanical gardens, butterfly exhibit, swan lake, petting zoo, children's playground, and a popular splash-n-play area. The park also hosts an annual fine arts festival, MagiCamp, and is available for rental for private parties, receptions, Admission is no longer free, and they charge US $3 for each visitor.
Former Parrot Jungle

Monday, May 23, 2011

Newly Bred Competition

Here is the second mobile US $10 orchid plant van that I find in South Miami. This man sets shop on SW 72nd Avenue just North of Sunset Drive. He is in direct competition with the first ever mobile orchid van. At first, I noticed that he was selling his plants for $12. Now his price is down to $10, the same as his direct competitor. The lady driving the white car just bought a plant from this man and she is ready to drive away.
Second Commerce

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Miami Sunset

This was taken at 7:48PM when the sun began to set in Miami. Not as good as at the beach, but better than nothing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

P. F. Chang

I knew about this restaurant for years, but never set foot in there until today, for a special lunch.

P. F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc. is an American restaurant chain with headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona. This chain was founded in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1993 by Paul Fleming and Philip Chiang, thus its name P. F. Chang. I really don't know why the "i" was dropped from the name. I am willing to bet it has something to do with the lucky number 7. It is a rather successful chain with more than 200 restaurants in the United States, Mexico, Kuwait City, and Dubai in United Arab Emirates.

This photo is taken at the P. F. Chang located in the Falls and the place was quite crowded. I sampled quite a few things and had a great VIP duck. Delicious! I had to skip dinner tonight after that big lunch.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pricey Valet

This is trendy Sunset Drive in South Miami. There is a large number of trendy restaurants in this area, and parking is hard to find (for tourists, that is.) So the price to have your car "valet parked" is inching up. It was recently US $5.00. Now it is $7.00. I saw a sign saying $8.00 already. Just a half block from here, you can quite easily park yourself for much less. Not for me!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

La Dolce Vita

Late on a Thursday afternoon, I was at Scotty's Landing in Coconut Grove, watching this richly appearing catamaran sailboat docking to catch a dinner at this restaurant. Some do have it made, don't you think?
Leisurely Dinner

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Cycads are seed plants typically characterized by a stout and woody (ligneous) trunk with a crown of large, hard and stiff, evergreen leaves. They usually have pinnately compound leaves. The individual plants are either all male or all female (dioecious). Cycads vary in size from having a trunk that is only a few centimeters tall to trunks up to several meters tall. They typically grow very slowly and live very long, with some specimens known to be as much as 1,000 years old. Because of their superficial appearance, they are sometimes confused with and mistaken for palms or ferns, but are only distantly related to both.

Cycads are found across much of the subtropical and tropical parts of the world. They are found in South and Central America (where the greatest diversity occurs), Mexico, the Antilles, southeastern United States, Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and southern and tropical Africa, where at least 65 species occur.

This is a Cycas aff. rumphii, a female plant, growing in the Montgomery Botanical Center in Miami.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Streetside Magnolia

Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae. It is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol. Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Here is tree growing outside in the street in a South Miami neighborhood that flowers every year.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zenny Peacocks

I returned to the Montgomery Botanical Center to find a herd of Indian peacocks enjoying a great Sunday afternoon stroll. How zen can this be?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wild Berries

Along the abandoned railroad track in South Miami are many treasures to be discovered. Here is a tree full of enticing "eat me now" which look like wild berries. However, cautious as I am, I am not taking any chance. I was hoping that the person who was with me would try first, but she was too smart to serve as guinea pig. The end result is that these fruits remain uneaten. I'll take some back for her cats to try. After a few days, if nothing is noticeable with the cats, I'll return for a good harvest.
Wild Berries

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Lone Lychee

This is a lychee tree planted to be a bonsai. Somehow, that didn't work out and I have no idea what to do next. This year, it decided to bear one fruit. Looks delicious to me. Dare I or dare I not eat it? What do you say?
Single Lychee

Thursday, May 12, 2011

As Low As The Ground

I love this... drooping royal poinciana. I can teach you how to play a suspenseful game of cock fight with the flower buds of this wonderful summer scarlet flower. If only they would be fragrant... Alas, they are not!
Early Gardenia

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Kid Is Back

Hey... Look... I'm back! Not a moment too soon. I am telling you that there is no place better than home, especially after you paid top bucks to suffer in Europe. Well, let's not talk about that else I will alienate tons of people. This is me landing in grand style at Miami international airport. The plane comes in from Northwest, overflying Doral. What you see is enclosed by Miami NW 74th street to the North, the Florida Turnpike to the West, Miami NW 107th Avenue to the East and Miami NW 58th Street to the South. A mere 30 years ago, this area was nothing but the everglades swamp.
The Kid is Back Home