Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Tree that Saved Itself

Having a very large potted plant growing on an elevated deck in the tropics would not come as much of surprise to most. In my case this is an example of an extreme will to live. I gave up house plants more than a decade ago. With lots of windows looking out into the garden, house plants just seemed redundant and they took up valuable space.

Out on the large deck they made more sense to help define the space. As Susan over at Takoma Gardener noted recently, the vagaries of watering potted plants can have some deadly consequences. Even with a hose right there I eventually switched to succulents and bromeliads for deck plants. It was too much trouble to water them almost daily in the tropical desert sun. A Confederate Jasmine Vine I had growing on the railing of the deck got quite large and constantly threatened to engulf the house. Fewer potted plants were needed. The succulents and bromeliads that needed a lot less water long ago turned to dust.

The vine got removed from the deck railing to do some wood repair. I was fussed at about it so I just dug the vine up. It was not going to be shy about coming back with a vengeance and well things are changing here. Now I have a naked, badly in need of some new paint deck.

There are a few survivors, a brown edged Sansevieria and a clump of Zephyr Lilies that resprout and bloom every time it rains. There is one potted plant that is thriving.

A Clusia rosea or Autograph Tree as we call it in Hawaii has refused to die. If I wasn't willing to water it, then so be it. This tree was going to go get some water on its own.

You can see why it is called the Autograph Tree. You can etch a mark into the leaf and it will remain permanently. I still have fond memories of Me.

These trees can start out as epiphytic plants. The seeds which are spread by birds behinds can sprout in the deep moist crook of another trees branches high off the ground. From there they start to send down long aerial roots to connect with the ground. The one on my deck constrained in a pot was no different. It launched roots out into space and went hunting for water and I didn't stop it. Why bother? I wouldn't have to water it soon enough.

Contact! It made a handy support for the Butterfly Pea, Clitoria ternatea to climb up to the railing of the deck as well. I was fussed at about this big fat root snaking its way through the deck at the same time I was fussed at about the Confederate Jasmine Vine. I will have to disconnect the tree from its lifeline at some point. It is the one spot of natural cool shade left on the deck. I would like to try and find it a home first if I can and transplant it to a new home. If I just cut off its main root, I know it too will turn to dust.


Pam/Digging said...

That is one of the most bizarre porch plants I have ever seen. "Feed me, Seymour!" Have you given this one a name? It seems to have personality to spare.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

No I had never thought of naming this tree even after all these years. Maybe Autrey III?

Annie in Austin said...

Those roots are like an exotic sculpture - and I love the title for your post!

But am I missing something? Isn't this your own deck? Who's fussing about the roots?

Nosy Annie

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

It only took three born in America generations for me to return to the status of a landless serf from which my European peasant ancestors fled the continent to escape.

The Lord and Lady of the manor to whom I pay a handsome rent, a percentage of my produce and maintenance labor on the grounds for the use of my smaller cottage and the land itself fussed at me.

I am but a lowly tenent.

Annie in Austin said...

Yeah, but you sure are a poetic tenant. And tenancy might be an advantage when you want to make the change.

I remembered that you had to take down the jasmine [frequently called Star Jasmine here, rather than Confederate], but I forgot the reason why.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose