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A Journey Into Paradise

Exotic Trees & Shrubs of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

15 January, 2014

The tropical foliage found throughout Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula remains one of the region’s major claims to fame – following the many miles of pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters,of course. Even if botany isn’t your favorite subject,the exotic trees and shrubs in the region are sure to catch your eye and dazzle your senses. Here,we’ve compiled a list of the most intriguing varieties.

Indian Coral Tree: Dotting the streets and roads throughout the region,Indian Coral trees are easily recognized by their bold,yellow striped leaves and dense clusters of red blossoms during the dry season in February. 

Lady of the Night: Although visually nondescript compared to some of the showier varieties to make this list,the Lady of the Night has an exquisite scent that more than makes up for its small pea-sized fruits,dense,bush-like appearance and lack of stature.

Pomegranate: During the late dry season in early March Pomegranate trees in this corner of Mexico produce slender-stemmed branches reaching more than 10 feet in height. Inch long bright red flowers that eventually morph to become the delicious Pomegranate fruit.

Purple Orchid Tree: These small trees boast saucer-sized leaves and lavender or bright purple blooms.

Spanish Plum: As the dry season begins in May,it’s common to find leafless trees bearing hundreds of plum-sized fruits. As soon as they become ripe,wild critters appear to make a free meal of the fruit,which resembles northern plums in taste and texture.

Star Apple: This member of the sapodilla family is handsome and can grow to great heights. Tiny,well-formed flowers are produced during the late rainy season in August and eventually are replaced by large,sweet and supremely delicious fruits.

Tree Cotton: Sometimes called “Sea-Island Cotton,” tree cotton first produces pretty,yellow and purple hibiscus-like flowers that span about two inches and later,during the dry season,it bears clusters of what resembles the cotton fiber grown in the U.S. First domesticated by indigenous people in the nearby Andes mountains countless centuries ago,tree cotton was used less for clothing and more for making fishnets. Since fish are more easily coerced into nets made of dark-colored fiber,the first growers selected plants that naturally produced beige or brownish fiber and bred them together until a dark,chocolate colored fiber could be produced with ease.

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