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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Canopy tree grows miniature oranges

By Staff | Mar 9, 2016

Mastic Tree. PHOTO BY ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Mastic Tree (Mastichodendron foetidissimum)

First impression: Lovely shaped canopy tree with an unusual fruit that looks like miniature oranges. After a second look, I notice these fruits are numerous and all over the tree. The dense arrangements of its small leaves and fruits make gazing at this tall giant quite breathtaking. Have I discovered a new citrus variety in paradise? Maybe not, but we have many of these fabulous native trees cascading and shading all over our Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: The Mastic Tree is an under used tropical tree and one of our fabulous local native species. It was one of the many tropical canopy trees that were utilized in days gone by for lumber. Today in our gardens they are gorgeous large trees with broad dense symmetrical canopies.

Our fast growing star’s mature height is 50-60 feet tall. The trunk is brown and straight with and unique, with textured bark. Mastic’s are evergreen with lots of dark green leaves to fill their large spreading canopy. I use these leaves as natural amendments to our gardens. You will have a hard time finding the flowers; they are small and have an unusual fragrance.

It’s the fruits that are noticed right away, from a distance, they look like Kumquats or Calmadins. In reality they are small round orange colored fruits that are OK for us humans to try, but really treasured by our wildlife. These juicy tidbits are a great food source for birds and wildlife. I enjoy watching our garden birds hop from twig to twig. The small warblers are attracted to the insects that hover around. The mockingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, and catbirds not only look for insects, but enjoy the berries. The ripened fruits also fall to the ground where land critters and even butterflies partake of the jammy mash.

You may plant in full sun or filtered shade, is salt, wind, and drought tolerant. It is a very hardy native tree with little, or no pests, or diseases. I invite you to add more Mastic Trees to your garden, let them grow tall and shady and discover what a treasure they are outside, as you recline under them and just close your eyes for a minute or two.

Pros:

Small leaves great for natural soil amendment

Drought tolerant

Attractive canopy

May inspire more outside naps

Fast growing

Wildlife attractor

Native plant

Great shade tree

Wind resistant

Cons:

May have to invest in a comfortable hammock

May tire of neighbors asking why your oranges are so small

Conclusion: You can’t walk by these Majestic Trees without admiring their generous showering of miniature fruits. Don’t forget to hug our Mastic Trees, just because they are so vital in our tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this Bloomer.