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Shaving Brush Tree

May 7, 2010

I’m excited for the opportunity to share my passion for the natural world with you and look forward to telling you about the flora and fauna that I see on my travels. I thought I would start with an unusual tree that caught my eye last week while walking through the Crane Point Nature Center at Marathon Key, Florida. ‘Didn’t see a crane on the Hammock Loop Trail, though we did see more a remarkable number of plant species native to the hammock eco-system and one interloper from Mexico called a Shaving Brush Tree (Pseudobombax ellipticum). This uncommon deciduous succulent is tolerant of cold temperatures down to 18 degrees, but it is happiest in the heat. In the United States, it’s grows sporadically across Florida, Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico and can reach heights over 30 feet. The one I saw was at least that tall, covered by the pink brush-like flowers that give this interesting tree its name. The blooms have multiple stamens with yellow pollen-laden tips, which were particularly striking on its pale bare mottled branches. This tree doesn’t leaf out until after its blossoms fade in late spring.

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