This month we have chosen to feature some of the long-awaited replanting of damage caused by Hurricane Irma. It is a well-worn cliché that “every black cloud has a silver lining,” at the same time it should be noted that every cliché has an element of truth, and here at the Fruit & Spice Park we are experiencing our silver lining! Irma was devastating and widespread, but we all know that it could have been much worse. While the storm damaged our beloved and beautiful park, it also is giving us the impetus and opportunity to enhance and refine the collection with new varieties and species. Damage from the storm has also uncovered a few hidden gems. As downed trees were cleared, some rare and interesting specimens were revealed and brought to prominence.
The most striking example of this is the Quararibea funebris, or Flor de Cacao. This very rare tree is native to Central America. The tree’s incredibly scented flowers were used by the ancient indigenous people as part of Cacao based ceremonial drinks, and are still used today as part of a drink known as tejate. Find the tree in the Tropical Americas area near the Tamarind and Allspice.
While we are on the subject of beautiful scents, we should mention the Ylang Ylang and Michelia. The essential oils found in both are used extensively in perfume—most notably, in the case of Ylang Ylang, Chanel No. 5. The Ylang Ylang was planted in the Africa zone, near the majestic Baobabs. The Michelia was planted just over the footbridge in the Asia area.
The South Pacific zone was given greater depth by the planting of multiple Citrus australasica or Finger Lime. This prime example of “bush tucker” has become more popular in recent years. The interesting fruit has plump, pearl-like juice vesicles that some have likened to lime “caviar,” I can’t wait until they begin fruiting. These are planted near the Rainbow Eucalyptus and Macadamia Nuts.
The list of newly planted specimens is too long to mention here (more than 70 so far,) but it is our hope that you will visit soon and marvel at the improvements made by our incredibly hard working horticulture team. Special mention goes out to horticulturist Louise King for spearheading this effort and making it a success — sometimes by careful planning, and sometimes by sheer force of will.
It’s been mentioned before that it’s our tendency to hurry through and demand things immediately, but this is another lesson for each of us to try and have a little more patience, to get more in touch with the natural rhythm of the seasons and nature. Whether it is the anticipation of Mango season, or waiting for the rains to start so the new trees will thrive… all will come in their own good time.