View Full Version : Please help ID shrub-(tree?) in Central Florida

12-24-2006, 09:05 PM
Hey all tree lovers! I am looking for help in identifying what I think is a shrub or small tree. I acquired it at a house I used to live at in Orlando, Florida. I donít think it's native but it seems to grow well here. The parent plant(s) was about 8-10 feet in height and filled about a 5-6 foot diameter with a lot of arching branches. The growth was not so thick that you couldn't see through the tree.

Trunk description: multiple trunks from ground, woody, light brown on old growth with very light brown stripes and is vertically striped red and brown with a smoother reddish color near the newer growth. I would say the area that is striped red is probably last yearís new growth. The diameters of the trunks are around 1 to 1-1/2" or so.

Leaf description: I believe the leaves to be odd-pinnately compound. I seem to remember branches coming off the trunks splitting into new branches, with the compound leaves coming of the secondary branches. In the pictures provided, the tree is small and only has single branches or twigs coming off the main trunk. Each end-leaflet will move to alternate sides and new apical growth will push out a new leaflet at the end, causing a mild zig-zag pattern to the branch. The leaflets are ovate with no real point at the end and have a smooth margin. Leaflets are smooth with no hairs or wax. Leaf color varies; when in the sun like the parent, it assumes a tri-color mottled pattern of reddish-violet, creamy white and green. My specimen has been on my porch out of direct sunlight and has solid green leafs, with the exception of the new bright red growth (the new branches are also bright red).

Notable features: tri-colored leaves, red striped or lightly furrowed trunk on new growth. Seems to push up suckers everywhere in the vicinity of the main bunch of trunks, which is how I got my specimen. I canít tell if the leaf-buds on the trunk really come out on top or below the branch (I think on top), as I have started training my tree as a bonsai which has forced multiple branches out of the same nodes on the trunk.

I must also say that I have never witnessed it flowering. I do remember passing by one in a Home Depot and remember the name started with the letters H-a-mÖI have researched Hamamelia, Hamelia, etc. but have found no exact match on any of the varieties I can find. It is a beautiful tree and I want to know how to take better care of it. If anybody has a clue as to what this is, please let me know. Also, if I have erred in my description, especially in the leaf detail, let me know that too. I have been looking for the name of this plant for almost a year now!

Thanks again,
Jim (bioman)

Quirky Quercus
12-27-2006, 07:30 PM
You're thinking of Hamelia patens... aka Firebush. It's a rather common native plant that has red spikey flowers. Unfortunately I don't believe that's what you have. I'm not certain but it looks a little like an orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata). I'm assuming they are juvenile leaves for that determination. Do a google image search and let us know what you think.