American Tulip tree - Liriodendron tulipifera

The Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is the state tree of Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. It also goes by the name Tulip Poplar or American Tulip tree.

The tree is a fast growing tree that can grow to be quite tall and is valued as a source of timber.
The "tulip" part of the name comes from the shape of the flower as can be seen in the image below.
(Image credit: Natalie Rowe,

This tree has an interesting 6-10 pointed, slightly palmate symetrical leaf shape. The leaves are about 5-6 inches accross.
These images come from the "Molino de Inca" botanical garden in Torremolinos Spain.

Other trees with a "tulip" shaped flowers are...
Southern Magnolia
Saucer Magnolia

Persian Lilac - Melia azedarach

The "Persian Lilac" as it is sometimes called is a member of the mahogany family native to Asia and Australia. It is a popular ornametal and shade tree that presents itself with uniquely different looks at different seasons. The image above illustrates its beautiful blossoms when it is in flower.

The leaves are simple in shape with an "odd pinate" distribution on the branchlet. Their color is a shiny light green.

The flowers give way to clusters of small tan colors balls that are about 1cm in diameter. These clusters of balls create the second interesting look of this tree when the leaves fall in Autumn leaving only these balls as ornaments.

The balls eventually turn black and fall off about the time that the next years new leaves are forming. I took these pictures in the University of Malaga botanical garden but these trees can be found all over Southern and Central Spain and in fact have gone native is some areas (begun to reproduce on their own).

The pictures above and below illustrate the pleasant form of this tree that makes it attractive as an urban tree for city lanes and parks.

Other names for this tree are White Cedar, Cape Lilac, Chinaberry or Bead Tree

White Popinac - Leucaena leucocephala

Whenever I look at the White Popinac flower up close it reminds me of the images of microscopic life forms taken with a powerful microscope. The flowers are these little (2cm diameter) balls that are creamy white with a greenish tone toward the inside. The image above illustrates what they look like far better than my descriptions.
The White Popinac is native to Mexico but has been introduced into many other countries for a variety of purposes. Its uses range from a simple ornamental tree for its unique flowers to firewood to livestock feed and as a tree that is good for the environment.
It is not a very big tree. Of the ones I have seen none is taller than 5 meters (16 feet).

Snowflake Aralia - Trevesia palmata

Trevesia palmata flowersI came across this rare tree in the "Paseo del Parque" gardens in downtown Malaga. It took me quite a while to identify this tree as there are very images of it on the internet.
Trevesia palmata Snowflake aralia flower detailI went back to this tree several times to get pictures of its flowers at different stages of development. The flowers hang on the underside of this small trees rather large leaves (about 40cm in diameter). The flowers form balls of small yellow and white blossoms. The ball shape is about 10cm in diameter.
Trevesia palmata flowersThe Trevesia palmata is native to South China and grows in tropical or sub-tropical climates. The trees that I found were only about 3 meters tall.
The leaves have long stems (about 75cm long) and grow of the main truck which is covered with small thorns that slowly wear off.

The image below is of the flowers and leaves after they have dried out but are still hanging on the underside of the tree.

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Rosewood - Tipuana tipu

The Rosewood tree (Tipuana tipu) also called the "Pride of Bolivia" or the Tipu tree is a South American tree that it widely used as a shade or ornamental tree.
I found the tree above in the court yard of one of the government buildings in the city of Malaga, Spain. This tree is extensively used in Southern Spain along streets and avenues as an ornamental tree.
This tree is particularly beautiful when it is in flower with small, brightly colored yellow flowers.

PNG saves the Bali climate talks

I just had to embed this Youtube Video that my brother just tipped me off on. The reason is that the person who made the comment for Papua New Guinea (Kevin Conrad) lived about 100 meters from us and I went to school with his younger sister. Way to go PNG and Kevin!

Field Elm - Ulmus minor

Ulmus minor leafA tree native to southern Europe the Field Elm (Ulmus minor) has a wide range of subspecies and hybrids. The images in this post come from two different trees. The first is of a mature Field Elm was photographed in the "Quinta del la fuente del Berro" botanical park in Madrid. The second is a young Field Elm in the botanical garden of the University of Malaga.
Ulmus minor branchThese trees are quite commonly used in Madrid as an urban tree that can be found along many streets and avenues.
While the native range of this tree is southern Europe it can be found in natural habitat as far away as Asia minor.
Mature Ulmus minor treeThe Field Elm can grow quite large. The image above from a botanical park in Madrid is of a tree that has a trunk about one meter in diameter.

Umbrella tree - Schefflera actinophylla

The Umbrella tree is native to Papua New Guinea which gives it a special importance for me because I grew up there until the age of 19. The pictures in this post were not taken in PNG however, they were taken where I currently live, in Malaga, Spain.
It turns out that this tropical tree is widely used here as an ornamental tree for avenues and gardens. I have also seen it used commonly as an indoor tree, valued as it is for its ornate leaves.
The flowers of the is tree are quite large, spreading out about two and a half feet (60-75cm). The flower has multiple arms like the legs of a long spider that branch out in all directions. Along these arms are multiple short offshoots where a cluster of bright red balls blossom into small red and yellow blossoms. The flowers end up turning black and the arms fall form the trees.
Although this tree can grow with a single trunk (below) it is far more common to see it split into multiple trunks right from ground level. The image above is the shape that most of these trees form in maturity which makes them more valuable as ornamental trees than as shade trees.
The leaves are palmatly compound and measure about 50 cm in diameter.

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Pine nuts from the Stone Pine tree

I went of a hike in the hills above the town of Mijas (Spain) and found myself in a forest of Stone Pines (Pinus pinea). Seeing some mature looking pine cones in some of the trees I decided to try and climb one. I was curious to find out how hard it is to extract the pine nuts from these cones.
I found a tree with some fairly low branches and managed to climb up to the top (this tree was only about 20 feet tall). When I reached the pine cones I found that they were full of pine nuts that were ready to fall. So much so that as I reached out to grab the first cones a bunch of its pine nuts fell out. In the end I gave up on trying to break off the pine cones without spilling the pine nuts and started throwing a few to the ground. Then I had to search around on the ground for all the pine nuts that had dislodged from the cones. I took home about 6-7 pine cones.
I think there were about 50-60 pine nuts in each cone. As you can see from the image above there were two nuts nested on each scale of the cone. All I had to do to get them out was to shake the cone a bit and then pry out the stubborn ones with a knife.
From five cones I filled a dinner sized plate with pine nuts (still in their shells). At this point the shells are covered with a black powder than rubs off on your fingers.
This is where the hard part started. These shells are not easy to open!! I tried a hammer but between hitting my fingers and having the little guys go shooting off in all directions decided that there must be a better way.
In the end I settled on using a pair of Vice-Grips that I had in my tool box. If you set the grip depth just right you can crack the shell without destroying the pine nut. Even then it was quite a bit of work to get though that plate of pine nuts!
Once the outer shells were off there is another very thin shell of the nuts similar to that of a peanut. You can eat these nuts raw or, like I did, you can roast them in the oven for a few minutes and eat them roasted. They are a real treat! They are also good in cookies, cakes, bread etc.

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Rubber tree - Ficus elastica

The Rubber tree (Ficus elastica) is one of the "figs" that is popular as an indoor potted tree. In the right growing conditions however it can grow to become a large tree. I have seen this tree reach heights of 20 meters with a broad spread.
The fruits of the Ficus elastica are small, measuring only 1-1.5 cm in length. The leaves however are large and showy. They are tough leaves with a shiny dark green color. I´ve seen some of these trees with such a dark green color almost reaching a dark purple green (see below).

The image above was taken in the town of "Rincon de la Victoria" east of Malaga in Southern Spain.
I took the picture below while waiting for a bus in central Malaga. As I waited I noticed the roots that this tree was dropping down from is lower branches. When these roots reach the ground they become additional trunks that help support the weight of the large branches.