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Weekly planter: South American beauty has a ball of flowers

A spectacular round ball of flowers is found on this South American shrub/small tree, flor de rosa.
A spectacular round ball of flowers is found on this South American shrub/small tree, flor de rosa. Miami Herald file photo

Flor de rosa is know by many names — rose of Venezuela, scarlet flame bean and its botanical name, Brownea coccinea subspecies capitella.

A gorgeous orange-red ball of flowers characterizes this leguminous shrub/small tree that is native to northern South America, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago. The stamens are golden yellow and joined at the base, topped with golden anthers, adding liveliness and depth to the spectacular flower clusters that appear from late winter to spring.

The big leaves with pointed drip-tips are compound, and begin life limp and light-colored, hanging at the ends of twigs. This is believed to be a defense against insect predation and sometimes gives the tree the nickname “handkerchief tree.” It grows to a height of 15 feet.

Browneas like protection from the wind and a semi-shady location. The plants also like adequate moisture, so be sure to keep a layer of mulch around the root zone.

Aspirin water (salicylic acid) helps with leaf growth and makes flowers last longer on this acid-loving plant. Dissolve 250 to 500 milligrams (one or two regular aspirin tablets) of aspirin in a gallon of water and spray the plant once every three weeks, preferably early in the day so the sun does not burn the wet foliage.

MIAMI HERALD ARCHIVES

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