Rooted in the Magic Forest

Rooted in the Magic Forest

Rooted in the Magic Forest

Buttress roots form at the base of many old shade trees in the thin tropical soils. These roots curve around and reach out to support the massive trees above. This was an old silk cotton, or kapok, tree whose buttress roots seemed to be actively searching for what they needed from the earth.

Flaming Hibiscus

Flaming Hibiscus - 2009

Flaming Hibiscus - 2009

I saw this beautiful yellow hibiscus while walking in the neighborhood. It seemed to be just crackling and sizzling with energy, a physical manifestation of the sunshine we get here each day.

Sea Grape

When they take the form of a tree, sea grapes have a distinctive shape and silhouette, and an interesting texture with their large round flat red-veined leaves. This one had taken up a traditional position along the shore. The early morning light gave even the green leaves a reddish glow. I eliminated some of the distracting detail to focus on the colors, the light and the simple composition of the original scene.

Sea Grape by the Shore - 2009

Sea Grape by the Shore - 2009

Chocolate Fruit, the Black Sapote

Black Sapote - 2009

Black Sapote - 2009

A ripe black sapote turns a dark geenish brown, and feels soft underneath the thin leathery skin. Sometimes called the “chocolate fruit”, it doesn’t look appetizing, even when cut open exposing the black-brown custard like interior. But taste it. Looks can be deceiving, and expanding one’s concept of what is edible is rewarding.

In fact, after witnessing the making of a sausage or a bag of Cheetos, I bet you’d much rather eat a black sapote.

Haiti-haiti flower (Thespesia populnea)

This is the beautiful flower of a common beachside bush (Thespesia populnea) called the haiti-haiti tree here on St. Croix, also known as seaside mahoe, portia tree, and often mistakenly called beach hibiscus. *

Haiti-haiti flower - 2009

Haiti-haiti flower - 2009

Despite the common name sometimes used, the beach hibiscus is actually a different plant (Hibiscus tiliaceus). Still, the flower does look hibiscus-like. I was attracted by the filmy, creamy translucence of the off-white petals when the flower is fully opened.

While the short-lived flowers are beautiful, the tree itself is scrubby with multiple woody stems. Invasive and salt-tolerant, it can quickly dominate a shoreline. The fruits or seedpods are a favorite of the local bright red love bugs, one of which is featured in my gravatar. More on those guys later!

*Thanks to Carol Cramer-Burke at the St. Croix Environmental Association for pointing me in the right direction on the facts here.

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