"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Leaf of the Day: Powder Puff Tree and Hammocks

The weather has been miserable and cold but there was a glimpse of sun yesterday, so Chris and I called in at Mead Gardens to make the most of it. Mead Gardens is a small public park about a mile away and is mostly a wild, wetland sort of park, with boardwalks above the swampy parts. It's lovely for its very wildness. There are the normal dire warnings about feeding the alligators but, apart from that, it is a little oasis of green in the city.
It was while reading some information about Mead Gardens that I came across the word 'hammock'. Here in Florida it as a word derived from early inhabitants to mean 'a cool and shady place'.
There is an interesting article about hammocks here written by Rhonda Brewer which contains this lovely quote.
'Thomas Barbour, naturalist at large, describes hammocks this way, "I love hammocks ... in the early spring, when the yellow jasmine festoons the forest trees and when the redbud and giant dogwoods and the maples are putting forth their vivid crimson foliage, I do not know of lovelier spots to sit listening to birds and resting in the heat of the day" (Barbour 1944:165).'

This leaf is from a very pretty tree we saw at Mead Gardens, called either the Powder Puff tree, or the Blood Red Tassel tree. Its Latin name is Calliandra haematocephala which ominously translates as 'with a blood red head'. There is a very similar one called the Fairy Duster but it has quite different leaves. For once I will include a photograph I took, as the flowers are quite beautiful.
This leaf is definitely furry and soft to touch...maybe floccose? A very delicate and dainty little tree all round.

After Mead Gardens we called in at Fiddler's Green where an Irish piper was skirling a few airs on the bagpipes for a cameraman.
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The Powder Puff Tree