What’s Blooming in Paradise?
Plant Subject: Apple Blossom Cassia (Cassia javanica)
First impression: WOWIE ZOWIE-Unique, Exotic and, rarely seen here in paradise and in full fabulous bloom at the botanical gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.
Observations: A large 50-foot spreading crown that is bursting with extra long clusters of bubble gum pink, dark apple red, and cream colored flowers 10-12 inches long. Sweet fragrance in the air-very subtle. Lots of large Orange Barred Sulphur butterflies fluttering all around it. Cassias are their host plants– AKA plants on which butterflies lay their eggs –adding to the dimensional beauty.
Most cassia species are yellow flowered bloomers; the pinky-hue makes this Cassia unique! Upon further investigation I discovered that it is classified as a medium to large (40 feet) tree, drought tolerant, and does well in full sun. Blooms non-stop late spring to summer. This cassia has semi-deciduous dark green pinnate leaves that resemble most cassia species. The unusual light grey colored bark just sets off that bubblegum pink. A non-native species whose origin is Asia.
Pros & Cons: Lots of blossoms and daily clean up. Drought tolerant and Non Native status. Gorgeous when blooming and ho-hum when not blooming. Insect damage minimal… Re think/tolerate caterpillars and nibbled leaves. Easy to maintain/prune and loses limbs in strong winds.
Conclusion: Must see – a great show stopper for a specimen tree in that eye-catching garden location. Don’t want to miss this bloomer!
(Anita Marshall is the gardening director at Sanibel Moorings. She is a master gardener and focuses on growing native plants. Her column will feature information about plants in bloom at the resort along with tips about how to care for them. Marshall conducts a tour at Sanibel Moorings Botanical Garden every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Cost is $5. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)