Plants That Improve On Acquaintance

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Nature Magazine, March 1932

There are many exotic plants perfectly familiar to readers which upon personal inspection reveal features entirely novel and surprising.

During a recent visit to Hawaii I was amazed at the beauty of the coconut palm in bloom. The flower branches were eighteen inches in length and were so dainty and delicate as to appear like exquisite lacework thrown over the tree. Held at the tip of each spray of pink flowers were tiny milk white coconuts each the size of a small cherry. On one spray I counted twenty-three such nuts.

Another plant that no amount of description can properly portray is the silk cotton tree. This curious variety of Ceiba, a wide-spread tropical genus, has projecting from its trunk grotesque flanges ten to fourteen feet high. This unusual root growth is tall and thin and slopes gradually to the ground, many feet away from the trunk. There are two very fine examples of this tree in Nassau. One which is in front of the Court House is said to be two hundred years old.


The beauty of a rare plant found on the Island of Maui, Hawaiian group, likewise impressed me deeply. It grows in scanty soil on the side of a burnt out crater about ten thousand feet above sea level. This, the silver sword or Argyroxiphium macrocephalum, sends up from its compact mass of gleaming leaves a flower spike similar to that of the yucca. It is found nowhere else than on the Island of Maui and even here has been allowed to survive in small numbers only on one side of the crater.