Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Clavellina Tree

Last night we ate at El Arrayan, Mauricio the master chef, pointed out the Clavellina tree growing by the sidewalk. He said to watch the tree.  In  20 minutes or so another flower will bloom. By the time dinner was served hot and delicious, a flower bloomed. Here's what I found about the tree:

"All the years that I lived in a cold climate with a long winter season, I eagerly awaited the emergence of the first spring bloomers. Since retiring to the sub-tropics, I enjoy growing flowers year round but I still look forward to a rotation of exceptionally beautiful flowering trees that only have blooms a short while. One of my favorites is the perky pink shaving brush tree (bombax ellipticum) that typically flowers in early spring, February/ March. This deciduous tree sheds its leaves in winter –and looks ugly until the blooms add pops of color. Not only is the multi-petaled deep pink flower unique, but the way its outer covering curls back is eye-catching. After the petals drop, the fruit pod that forms is also attractive.

The shaving brush tree, native to Mexico, can be grown as an attractive flowering tree in a large yard. Its Spanish name is Clavellina reaching 30 feet (9m), unless you regularly prune it back. Clavellina grows best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. While the shaving brush tree is very distinctive for its exotic pink flowers, its bark with a striping of green, yellow, and white, is also unique. The flowers appear on bare branches, with the blossoms only lasting for one day before dropping off. After all the flowers are finished, new leaves will appear on the branches. The new leaves have a red color that turns green as they mature. Because the Clavellina tree has such artistic bark and unique flowers, many people of Central America and southern Mexico plant the tree in their garden. The attractive Clavellina flowers are used to decorate homes and churches. The Shaving brush tree is especially different when it’s young: the trunk has a bulb-like swollen stem that look like a green rock melon.

The Mexican indigenous people use the leaves to make a tea to cure cough and respiratory ailments. The Clavellina tree is also used as firewood and for carving handicrafts. Shaving brush tree can typically be found growing in dry and rocky locations. It is a very ornamental plant and native cultures within it natural range are planted for its attractive appearance but it is also planted to form a living fence. Clavellina seeds can be toasted and eaten and the fruit fibers (kapok) are used to fill pillows and as insulation. The importance of the Clavellina tree to the Mayan civilizations is evidenced by the presence of the flowers in the artwork on ceramic pieces."


Yesterday, here in Zihuatanejo, we celebrated Sailfest by signing up for a sunset cruise for 600 pesos apiece. Sailfest is a charitable event that is part of the Los Niños. 

Los Ninos is a volunteer group formed to help disadvantaged parents in Zihuatanejo, Mexico provide an education for their children.  Their website has been developed to share the story of these beautiful children and their dedicated parents, and to solicit your contributions.

Bev and I arrived at 4:00 ready to board. We were told we would sail on the Patricia Bell, an 80-foot schooner built by the captain and his sons. It is a two-masted black-hulled beauty. There were nineteen visitors and seven crew. We motored out of the harbor toward the brilliant sun in a cloudless sky.  Then we turned around and sailed back at about one knot per hour.

It was so quiet when the motor was off. Just, the waves slapping the hull and the wind filling the sail.

A stunning female crew member, Julia, and a Justin Timberlake lookalike, Sam, dove over the side and clung to a trailing rope. They were filled with joy over the condition of the warm water. Dawn, a third member of the crew, joined them. Julia swam alongside the boat and was easily swimming faster than the schooner.

At about 6:30 the sunset and we all waited to see if there would be a green flash. Nope! Not this time, because a little haze hung on the horizon.  The setting sun pinked the building thunderheads to our east, and it was warm, unlike the Chicago weather of frigid temperatures where many tourists were from. Carlos played a quiet melody on his guitar as we moved back to anchor.

Bev and I relaxed on the padded side seats. I held her hand and marveled at how Mexico had filled our lives with Joy.