|Interesting Plants 3
This large, fast-growing tree begins life as an epiphyte.
Its leaves are excellent, if exaggerated, examples of drip tips, which
allow rapid shedding of water. Widely planted in the tropics, in India
the tree is sacred to Hindus and Buddhists.
The mangroves are widely distributed throughout the tropics
and in southern Florida, growing in areas of salt water, such as tidal
shores and marshes. The many arching aerial roots make dense tangles that
stabilize the surrounding soil, prop the tree, and assist in absorbing
water and minerals. Seeds germinate while still attached to the parent
plant, giving them a head start on growth when they fall and lodge in the
mud. Mangrove bark is an important source of tannin, used in tanning, dyeing,
making ink, and medicine. American mangrove is also referred to as red
This southeast Asian tree, which can grow to 80 feet,
is also sometimes spelled "ylang-ylang." Its greenish yellow, drooping
flowers are exceedingly fragrant, and their oils are distilled for use
in some of the world's most expensive perfumes.
Not true pines, the many trees and shrubs in the Pandanus
family are noteworthy for their dramatic architecture and aerial prop roots.
The name "screw pine" reflects their twisted patterns of growth. In areas
where the plants are native, their leaves are often woven into thatch,
baskets, hats, and mats, while their flowers are sources for perfumes and
This Southeast Asian bamboo became famous during World
War II for its ability to overgrow jeeps rapidly, reportedly sometimes
overnight. A mature specimen can reach more than 100 feet in height and
12 inches in diameter.