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

Monday, 8 December 2008

Leaf of the Day: The Ferocious Wild Lime

It was nice to have day off yesterday but today I had to sort out the seedlings on the balcony and re-pot a few things. Last year, having just arrived in Florida and completely enchanted by the, to us, very exotic orchids we bought two. After flowering I was not sure what to do with them so rather abandoned them. Now to my amazement I see one of them is going to flower again. It is a rather nice yellow whiskery one, I think one of the Eternal Wind varieties but my knowledge of orchids is zero. I do hope it will flower, I have yet to tackle an orchid. Here is the photo I took last year, on the 17th of December to be precise.



Meanwhile it is back to the leaves. While I was looking at the citrus fruit last week at Leu I came across this nice little wild lime tree. Zanthoxylum fagara
I liked the leaves very much. They have this curious winged part of the stem between the leaflets so it looks as though someone had gathered-in the stem and tied bows along its length.

A description from the University of Florida database, here

"Wild-Lime is a small tree native to south Florida and the Caribbean Basin. It grows as an understory tree in the coastal upland plant communities on the lee side of the dunes in
south Florida. Compound leaves have distinct wings along the leaf rachis and smell of lime when crushed. Most specimens in the woods have several stems emerging close to the ground. Specimens at nurseries can be grown with one or several trunks. Stems have sharp spines that can cause severe pain when they contact flesh."


I can confirm that all the above details are true. I have a ripped thumb... and it looks so pretty and innocent. Every bit of it seems to have very sharp thorns, even this little sprig has them at every leaf junction. Another more robust description comes from Plant Creation website here who used to sell this but no more due to Citrus Greening disease. But, anyway, I am not quite sure how successful they were with this one.. shooting yourself in the foot comes to mind but it is always best to be honest about your products. :)

"Call me a coward, but I would rather face the gnashing, flesh-ripping, bone-cracking teeth of a thousand fully-crazed, salivating, rabid pit-bulls than the thorns of a single, itty-bitty wild lime.
In the photo below is a wall that only Olympic pole vaulters will be able to surmount.
Naturalize your property lines with wild lime and then retreat to a safe distance.



Image and entertaining info re local Florida plants from the Plant Creations website

It is also called Lime prickly-ash and not surprisingly, Cats Claw.
There are pretty fragrant flowers in the spring, but no limes, just small black fruit. Its only claim to being lime-like is the smell of the leaves.


One very good reason to plant it, apart from deterring practically anyone or anything who chooses not to arrive on your property by the designated driveway, is that it is an excellent plant for attracting swallowtail butterflies and they are just beautiful.

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Wild Lime


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