Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some "Must Have" Trees

This tree is the "poor man's orchid" tree (I forget the real name - starts with a B...Bouhinia or something). It is a very nice looking tree with neat looking leaves that fold up at night and look like butterflies. The flowers are pink with a splash of red in the center. I have moved many seedlings to other spots in the yard. The doves like this tree. I really recommend it as a nice tree to sit under and have as a shade area in the yard. It isn't very messy - just the pods once a year. They do make popping sounds as they spray seeds around but this is 15 feet or so from the house and we love it.

This is the large Maria Tree in the front yard. It is a really large tree probably 30 plus feet across and taller than the house. If you have room for one plant it! It is a great shade tree (needs a hammock under it though) and has survived hurricane Georges and who knows which other ones so it must be strong. It is in front of our house. The cats climb it, I've got philodendron climbing it and orchids hanging on it.

You can see the nice open structure. It doesn't obstruct light but filters it nicely. It does drop little balls (seeds) that I occasionally rake up but it is these balls that the bats are after. The bats LOVE this tree. We sit in front and watch them swoop from the huge mango to the Maria Tree and back. When Jeff and I went caving there were Maria Tree seeds deep in the cave where there wasn't light. Just little albino shoots! A great tree. I've chucked some balls into the ground where I'd like to have more.

This is a Guava (Guayaba). This tree has a really pretty bark that peels a little and reminds me of Eucalyptus or rubber trees. It has kind of a sensual trunk design I like. The leaves don't matter much. I love the bark and shape of this tree but don't put it too close to your house. It produces loads of fruit (one of  two fruits I don't like) that drop and then you have that rotting fruit smell. It is 12 or so feet outside our bedroom window and I hear the fruit drop in the middle of the night. I try to collect it all before it stinks. Get this tree but put it where the fruit drop doesn't require constant pick up.


Linda said...

Hi Katrina! I have been enjoying exploring your blog - your place looks fantastic! It's good to know you and Jeff are doing well, and I love all the photos. Makes me feel like I'm there with you. Buddy Guy is fine, and all is well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jeff and Katrina,

Thank you for sharing your pictures and comments. I am reminiscing quite a bit. I was 6 years old when my parents planted the Maria tree which was a bit taller than I was at the time. I remember my Mom saying "tierra tosca" which means they had to plant it almost on the rock itself. They had just cut the mountain to build the house and that section was pure rock. I don't think they expected it to survive, but we all took care of it for a while. We used to live in the wood house (which now forms part of Lucy's house) and we had not moved since the new house was not finished yet. I remember learning to ride my bike without training wheels for the first time right by the tree. I almost ran into it and I remember thinking that my parents were going to kill me if I damaged the tree.

You are right, it has survived at least 4 or 5 major storms/hurricanes with only minor damage. It is 35 years old already.

Oh well, sorry for my boring story, but it brings back a lot of memories. I just realized that my kids turned six -- I guess its time to plant a tree in our new house!!!


Hamilton Jr.

Fran and Steve said...

What a nice memoir from Hamilton...As he's mentioned before, it is so cool that you two are honoring his family's heritage trees! You don't like guavas? We used to eat them very ripe and warm from the tree. I know the seeds are a pain, but they just go down with the meat. My grandma used to make "casquitos de guayaba", which is a syrupy delight made from the rind (tasty with cream cheese or ice cream, to cut the sweetness). Same process as "dulce de lechosa/papaya". There are a couple of fruit I don't like either, and some I haven't even tried (like your fave, parcha). Fran

Anonymous said...


Thank you very much for your comments! My family is very happy that the Kruses bought their house because they love it as much as they did. "Casquitos de guayaba" is probably my favorite dessert. We used to eat it with "queso blanco". We've been able to find canned "casquitos" here in Virginia as well as Queso Indulac.

There used to be a place on Route 2 in Quebradillas (near Isabela) that sold "queso de hoja" (or string cheese), also called "queso de mano" which was the best queso blanco I remember. It was home made and famous all over. I remember the place was like a wooden shack right by a couple of humongous ceiba trees. I'm afraid the trees (and the wooden structure) got taken away when Route 2 was expanded.

Maybe they still sell it there on an improved locale.


Hamilton Jr.

Anonymous said...

Fran, I do like things made of guayaba but there are lots of seeds, it is hard to tell when they are ripe, and some of them have worms once they hit the ground. I don't like making things with them enough to go through a spray cycle.

Hamilton - we LOVE hearing about the house and yard! I cannot imagine the maria tree being small. There are some small ones along highway two, and their branch structure doesn't resemble the big one we've got. I can't imagine your family in Lucy's little house. Sadly since Paco died it has gone down the tubes and isn't taken care of at all. When were the orange trees planted? I gave them a total clean up/pruning and won't have many fruit this year but next year? It should be great! Thanks for sharing your history. Did your dad send you avocados?

Linda - Is this Washington Linda???

Anonymous said...


Yes, I have to say that we often gladly commented about the canopy shape of the Maria tree. They naturally tend to grow more upright.

Yes, it was tight in the wooden house. When my brother was born, my dad decided it was time to build their dream home. Paco was a hard working man, he always kept his house and yard in good shape. My parents have said that things have changed dramatically with their property. Its very sad.

Most of the orange trees are about 10 years old. Some are older. I think your pruning will do them good. I know that they do some pruning in Florida with their orange trees, I lived near Brevard County for a while. With oranges we discovered that it truly depends on the amount of rain they get prior to flowering and when the fruits get developed. Come winter you'll get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Unfortunately, my dad did not send us avocados because I had to travel quite a bit recently for work. I heard they were delicious as always.

By the way, Big Congratulations! to Jeff for his new job!!! I hope he enjoys it. I know that the traffic may be hard to get used to, but it really depends on the time of the day. I used to drive from home to the University in Mayaguez and back for 5 long years. Back then, I had a VW beetle with no AC, can you imagine?


Hamilton Jr.