Some folks are fond of saying that Miami doesn't enjoy the change of seasons. Not so! Seasonal changes are more subtle here, but they are marked by the flowering of our native and exotic ornamental plants.
Here are a few of the flowering plants you might see in the Gifford Arboretum....

In the early spring, Bombax ceiba produces spectacular, almost other-wordly flowers. The similar flower of another member of the Bombacaceae (Pseudobomax elliiptica) graces the Gifford Arboretum logo. (t shirts and tote bags are available!)

The Lancepod (Lonchocarpus violaceus) could be considered our Florida version of the lilac. It blooms profusely in the autumn, bearing large, soft clusters of very fragrant blooms.

The Yellow Elder (Tecoma stans) is a small, shrubby tree that bears spectacular, fragrant flowers in spring and autumn. The aroma of the flowers is strangely reminiscent of those little marshmallow chickens you get in your Easter basket.

This tropical beauty (Costus sp.) is one of many specimens in our understory monocot garden. Expect to find gingers, heliconias, Bird of Paradise and many other colorful genera.

The American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) bears tiny clusters of lavender flowers, very attractive to local butterflies, in late spring. Late summer and autumn sees a bounty of shiny purple berries which are an important food source for local avian fauna such as mockingbirds, orioles, bluejays and migratory perching birds.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima is sometimes called the "dwarf poinciana" because of its resemblance to its larger cousin, the Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia). In the West Indies, this beautiful little tree is sometimes known as "The Pride of Barbados." It is excellent for attracting butterflies to a garden.

The Candlebush (Cassia alata.) is so-named for its tubular, erect inflorescences which appear in late summer, and persist through the middle of autumn. It is an important food source for larval sulfur butterflies, and hence is a good addition to any butterfly garden.

This thorny, herbaceous shrub is our only native representative of this large, tropical genus. The flowers, which appear in early spring, are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. In summer, the plant bears black pods containing shiny, red seeds which are poisonous to mammals.

The Firebush (Hamelia patens) bears numerous cymes of bright orange, tubular flowers for most of the year. It is a favorite nectar source for native Heliconius butterflies, which can usually be found fluttering among the firebush's branches. This plant is common in hammocks, coastal dunes and shell middens throughout southern Florida.

We hope you'll come search out our many other interesting and beautiful specimens--in person.



Biology Home Page | General Information | Faculty, Staff, and Students | Classes | Programs | Current Activities | Biology Links

Return to the University of Miami Home