UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service
458 Highway 98 North
Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578
May 3, 2007
Feature Article - for release the week of May 6, 2007
Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent, retired
week I joined four other faculty members of UF/IFAS on a
there, I also observed how many of their tropical crops
are produced and how the native plants are adapted to
Learning about which plants can best survive in this area will be critical to their future. Tourist development is taxing this area’s very limited water resources. Their experiences can help us here in Florida, as their successes may be found useful in our own Florida Yards and Neighborhoods.
The National Tree of Costa Rica is the Guanacaste. Its broad shape and large size provides valuable shade and cover for wildlife, livestock and "Ticos" - the natives of this Central American democracy. Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
A mature Guanacaste tree may have a trunk greater that 2 feet in diameter and a spread of 90 feet. Photo: Hear.org
observed a very beautiful tree is found naturally growing
in Guanacaste - and its local common name is the same as
the state. The
is also the National tree of
its native environment, the Guanacaste has a broad
spreading canopy that provides valuable shade to
rangelands in arid areas of
valuable shade, this tree has other
important assets. Because
it is a member of the bean family, it helps capture
nitrogen from the air and puts it into the soil.
Its wood is decay resistant and
weight, which allows its use for canoes and wood paneling.
This enormous tree is often all that remains of larger Central American forest which were cleared for cattle grazing many years ago. They provide shade for the many other plants found growing below and support essential habitat for many frogs, birds, and insects. This is why Guanacaste are often left standing in rangelands - and cattle eat the seed pods as well.
our return to
Horticulture Agent Adrian Hunsberger was reviewing a book
she acquired on the tour.
She was reading up on the Guanacaste tree, and
found that its botanical name is Enterolobium
about that name finally brought a glimmer of recognition
to me. I finally remembered that this same tree grows in
|Ear trees are occasionally found in older homes in central and southern Florida. Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS||This Ear tree in Goldenrod (Seminole county) Florida has multiple stems and fills this back yard. Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS|
distinctive tree has seed pods shaped like a human ear.
I recall when I first moved to
Guanacaste tree’s natural range is from
these areas on the Pacific coast get similar annual
rainfall amounts as does
cyclocarpum is a
doubly - compound leaf. Spring flowers are
inch-wide white "powderpuffs."
Right: seed pods of this tree are hard, distinctively shaped pods that contain up to 20 hard seed. They give the tree its English common name - Ear Tree.
Photos: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
|Enterolobium seed pods found in Costa Rica (R) . Another one (R) was brought in to our Florida Extension office. (should this go to Disney World?)||
Photos: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
were introduced as a curiosity to
report from the aftermath of Hurricane
reported the Florida Champion Ear tree, which covered
nearly an acre of ground in
Some persons would consider the Ear Tree as invasive because it can rapidly grow from spreading seed pods. UF has an invasive plant review process, and in March 2007, it concluded that this plant has not demonstrated invasive characteristics.
Isn’t amazing how one plant can be appreciated as the right plant in the right place, but vastly unadapted in the wrong environment. Viva el Arbol Guanacaste, and remove those Florida Ear trees!
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Condit, Richard. Enterolobium cyclocarpum. In: . Panama: Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 5/2007. http://ctfs.si.edu/webatlas/findinfo.php?specid=2625&leng=english
Duryea, M.L., E. Kampf, R.C. Littell and Carlos D. Rodríguez-Pedraza. 2007. Hurricanes and the Urban Forest: II. Effects on Tropical and Subtropical Tree Species. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry: 33(2):98-112. PowerPoint available on-line at: http://treesandhurricanes.ifas.ufl.edu/powerpoint.html
Harmon, Patrick. Enterolobium cyclocarpum Common Name: GUANACASTE. In Trees of Costa Rica's Pacific Slope. Escazu, Costa Rica: Country Day School,2006. http://www.cds.ed.cr/teachers/harmon/page60.html
Hayden, W. John. Flora of Kaxil Kiuic (Yucatan). Richmond: University of Richmond, June 2006. http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/flora-kiuic/e/enterolobium%20cyclocarpum.html
Meerow, A.W. and Black, R.J. Enviroscaping to Conserve Energy: Trees for South Florida [EES-42]. Gainesville: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, 9/2003. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EH142
Rocas, Anibal Niembro. Enterolobium cyclocarpum. in: Tropical Tree Seed Manual Xalapa, Veracruz, México: Instituto de Ecología, A.C., 1/2003. http://www.rngr.net/Publications/ttsm/Folder.2003-07-11.4726/PDF.2004-03-03.4055/file
Starr, Forest & Starr, Kim Enterolobium cyclocarpum Elephant's earpod. Hilo, Hawaii: Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR), 4/07. http://www.hear.org/starr/hiplants/images/thumbnails/html/enterolobium_cyclocarpum.htm
Wittinger, D. Ear Pod Tree, Elephant's Ear, Monkey Ear - Enterolobium cyclocarpum. Bryan/College Station, Texas: Dave's Garden Website, 5/2007. http://davesgarden.com/pf/go/66198/index.html
Wikpedia. Enterolobium cyclocarpum, 5/7/2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterolobium_cyclocarpum