False Aralia tree - Schefflera elegantissima

The observations in this post are from a number of adult “Shefflera elegantissima” trees in the city of Malaga. Most of the information that I have found on the internet related to this tree as a potted plant or indoor tree. The only thing I know about the use of this tree species as a potted plant is that the leaves are quite a bit different on young trees than they are on adult trees (see images below).

The leaves of this tree are similar to in size and shape to those of the Schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella tree) except that they have a pronounced serration and tend to be a bit darker tone of green.

The flowers of the False Aralia are large and branch off into multiple clusters of little ball like blossoms, with 5-7 in each cluster. These little green balls then turn into little black balls which I believe is the fruit. The flowers are not very sightly and tend to look more like a tangled web than anything else.

I´ve photograped a tree that I believe is about a big as this species normally grows. It was about 25-30 feet tall (7-9 meters). As you can see from the image the form of the tree has filled out into a pretty normal “tree-like” shape with a main trunk and branches. Most of the younger trees that I have seen tend to have multiple stems and very little branching.

The difference between the leaves on a young tree vs. an adult tree is that the leaves of the young tree are very slender (1/2 inch wide - 1.5-2.5 cm) while those of adult trees are wider (about 3 inches wide (10cm)).

The young trees tend to be tall slender stems with slender leaves and can be very attractive as indoor plants.

This tree is related to the Umbrella tree and the Dwarf Umbrella tree

Aleppo Pine - Pinus halepensis

Very close to where I live there is a "Parque Natural" (Like a national park) called "Montes de Málaga". Many years ago it was scarcely populated with Olive and Carob trees. In an effort to prevent flooding in the City of Málaga the hills were repopulated with Aleppo Pine trees and thus the Montes de Málaga Parque Natural was created.
I´m not sure why this particular species of pine was chosen as it is not native to Spain. Nor does it seem to be reproducing naturally in the Montes de Málaga area. At any rate it is fairly well suited to the climate and has been effective in reducing the water runoff when heavy rains fall in the hills above Málaga.
These pines do not seem to be of much value commercially as they do not grow very big or very straight. One of there chief qualities seems to be their ability to survive dry climate conditions.

The needles on this pine are about 8-10 cm long. The cones are about the same length and have the curious habit of doubling back on the branch as can be seen in the image above. Old cones stay on the tree for a long time and it is not uncommon to see older trees loaded with old cones that never fell off.

The Pecan tree - Carya illinoinensis

The Pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis) is native to North America. The pictures in this post are from a tree in the “Jardin Botanico-Historico, La Concepción” in Malaga, Spain. This tree species was brought to Europe by the Spanish explorer “Cabeza de Vaca” in the 16th century.

This tree is the source of Pecan nuts which along with Pistachios are my favorite nuts. I am particularly fond of fresh home-made Pecan pie. My mother used to make one for me on my birthday.
So you can image my delight when I found a Pecan tree with the nuts fully formed and ready for picking. I had always wanted to know what the tree was like and what the nut looked like before it is picked.
These images illustrate what the nut looks like on the tree and also when they are opened. They are good eating raw or roasted.

What are Banyan trees?

The term “Banyan” is used to refer to several species of trees from the genus “ficus” (figs). The common trait that sets apart figs as Banyans is the ability to send down “aerial roots” from the main branches which in time grow into new trunks or merge with the main trunk creating a massive tangled bulk that can reach diameters up to 8 meters wide. The most common of these species is the Ficus benghalensis, called the Indian Banyan or Bengal Fig. The largest of these is found in India and has more than 2880 proproots that have formed new trunks!

Another fig species that is often referred to as “Banyans” is Ficus Macrophylla which goes by the common name Moreton Bay Fig. The images in this post are of some large Moreton Bay figs that I photographed in the city of Malaga in Spain. In the image above you can see some aerial roots that have grown from the underside of a large branch.

In the image above you can make out the shape of the leaves and fruit. The leaves are simple in shape and are dark green and smooth. The measure about 15-20 cm in length. The fruits are small "figs" but are not edible like some of the other members of the ficus genus. (ie ficus carica).

Another characteristic of the Moreton Bay Fig are large buttress roots that serve as additional support. These roots that protrude above the ground an extend quite a ways our from the base of the tree as you can see in the image above.

Another fig species that sends down aerial roots and can have a similar appearance is the Ficus Elastica or Rubber tree.

Avocado tree - Persea americana

Avocado is one of my favorite fruits for the simple fact that I love guacamole. Where I live in Malaga, Spain Avocados are grown quite extensively. The other day I spent the day with a local farmer who grows Olives, Almonds, Avocados, Oranges among others. The Avocados on his trees where full grown although not yet ripe.

I prefer to pick the Avocados green so that I can use them for guacamole when they are just at the perfect stage of ripeness, which for me is when they are totally black on the outside and just a bit soft to the squeeze. I have come across some Avocados though that are still green when they turn ripe so the softness is more of a sign of ripeness than the color.

The tree that we picked from must have had more than a hundred large Avocados hanging from its branches, some of which were hiding among the largish leaves. The branches of the Avocado tree break easily so it is important to remove the fruit carefully so as not to break the branches.

When I make guacamole I use...
  • three Avocados
  • half of a small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder or finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cilantro
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Taco seasoning
When I have lots of Avocados ripening at once I make a big batch and freeze the guacamole is zip lock bags making sure to leave no air in the bag before I place it in the freezer. When I am going to use the "Guac" I place the bag in warm water for a few minutes to thaw it out.

Dwarf Umbrella plant - Schefflera Arbicola

Where I live in Malaga these plants (sometimes small trees) are very common both as exterior and interior plants. The image above is of one in my apartment. While I have never seen them flower indoors it is quite common to see them flowering outdoors all over town.
I realize that the correct name for these is "schefflera arboricola" but I got used to calling it "arbicola" and since it is easier to remember it kinda stuck. The image below is of what I believe is the "fruit" of the Dwarf Umbrella plant, at least this is what forms after the flower.
Dwarf Umbrella plants can be very floppy and unruly so it can help to use a bamboo or cane shaft to keep the stems from flopping over. This plant has the tendency to grow multiple stems from its base.
One very creative idea that I have seen for this plant can be seen below. This idea makes the plant look more like a tree even though it has multiple stems.
A burlap fabric is wrapped around the stems to create the look of one thicker "trunk". Very neat idea.

Saucer Magnolia tree - Magnolia x soulangiana

There is a botanical garden a short distance from where I work that I sometimes go for a walk in. I was there for a short time today and to my surprise I came across a Saucer Magnolia just coming into flower.

I have been though the garden many times but today was the first time that I have taken notice of this tree. Had I known that it was there I´m sure that I would have been on the lookout for it. As it was I almost missed it as I walked by. Something caught my eye however and when I looked over I saw the new flowers (top two images)

These next two images are not from the same tree but rather are pictures that my sister sent me of a tree that she saw one day on her way to work last year. I´m pretty sure that they are the same species although there might be a slight cultivar difference.
This tree is in the same genus as the Southern Magnolia.
Click here for a fantastic sequence of images of the Magnolia Grandiflora opening.