30 October 2015

Ylang-ylang in bloom

       The 'odorata' part of the botanical name for the ylang-ylang tree is wonderfully true. Some years ago we planted several small 'cananga odorata' trees at False Bluff. Three survived and have matured enough to bloom; and the scent is more than I expected - and I expected a lot.
     Thirty or so years ago there were a lot of ylang-ylang trees in RAAS, most a bit inland from our seaside location.  An agricultural agent saw our trees before we planted them and recognized them immediately.  He was both pleased and surprised to see them saying that most of the old trees are gone, had died out and not been replaced; and that he'd actually only seen one live one since he'd been working for the government.
     The ylang-ylang tree (ylang-ylang is pronounced ee-LANG-ee-LANG) is fast growing and in ideal conditions can reach a height of forty feet pretty quickly. Our conditions are ideal with one exception: salt spray from the sea.  We're on the Caribbean coast and that environment's taken its toll on more than the ylang-ylang trees. 
     The three trees that are blooming were purposefully protected when we planted other trees and shrubs to take the brunt of the salt spray. However, these protecting plants have pretty much hit their height limits and thus, so too, have our ylang-ylang trees - because when new ylang-ylang growth pokes above the plant screen the salt spray kills it pretty quick. 
     But I'm OK with that because if our trees grew the way they were supposed to, the blooms would be forty feet above the ground and thus out of my reach.  I wouldn't be able to pick the blossoms and the scent, the odorata, would go right over my head - like so many other things do.
     Here are the flowers on the tree...

     and in the hand!