Tropical South

June, 2004
Regional Report

Web Finds

Hummingbird Nest
Check out these amazing photos of a Hummingbird Nest being constructed. Someone discovered one -- narrower than a toothpick -- on the thin stems of berry bushes about 30 inches above the ground at Oso Flaco Dunes Nature Preserve on the Central Coast of California and started taking photos on May 13, 2003. The mother laid the first egg on May 16, the second on May 20. Both hatched on June 3. The 18 excellent photos show the whole process until the last bird flew away on June 17. Fantastic coverage.

Favorite or New Plant

Aloe Vera
Aloe species, sometimes called burn plants, are succulent members of the lily family that are supposedly happiest in hot, dry, desert-type climates. But I have a patch of them that spreads and grows in whatever weather Florida throws at them. They didn't complain at all about the drought. However, mine are celebrating the rain by blooming again.

Some bloom with a single spire to a stem; others have several spires growing outward along the top of each stem. Flowers can come in red, yellow, or orange, and mine are a soft orange edged with a silvery gray that looks great in a bouquet with silver dollar eucalyptus.

All the aloes I've seen in Florida grow with a basal rosette of thick leaves, but in California they get to be larger shrubs. If I could only grow one plant, this might well be it, for aloe is easy, decorative, and useful. Keep a plant where you can reach it day or night to break off a stem and apply the jelly inside to anything from insect bites and sunburn to more serious burns. This plant is a whole first aid kit that keeps growing as you use it.

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