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What's Blooming in Paradise: Macadamia Nut Tree

August 24, 2012
Anita Force Marshall , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

First Impression: Fuzzy, creamy flowers that remind me of slender bottle cleaners dripping from a petite tree. These flowers before the fruit are going to become everybody's favorite snack. Who would have guessed this small tree months from now will have macadamia nuts ripening? Just gazing on upon the blooms may make you feel a little nutty, at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: The Macadamia genus has approximately 10 species of trees. Many different cultivars of trees have been produced, which makes your choice either confusing or engaging. Luckily, it is a lovely tree even without the harvest. It has a natural shape with a smooth, gray trunk and limbs. It is slow growing, our tree is petite at about 24 feet tall but others can reach 35 feet high. Evergreen and dense with dark green leaves which are arranged in a whorl pattern. Ouch, they usually have a spine at the end, so be careful. This little tooth over the years has helped protect its tasty nuts from being eaten. Flowers are long sprays of creamy, tiny flowers in the shape of caterpillars. Ahhh, take a deep breath for a lovely sweet lingering fragrance. This fragrance attracts bees with the reward of honey like nectar. The star of this tree is the nuts which develop after the flowers. Each flower stalk can produce up to 25 nuts. Patience, it takes seven months after the blooms for nuts to be edible. These very round edible nuts are encased in a hard dark green leathery husk. This husk splits open as it ripens and the nut falls to the ground. No need to pick them, they are ripe when they fall from the tree. Did you know, the nut is reputed to be the hardest nut in the world? It requires at least three hundred pounds of weight per square inch to break the shell completely. Yummy, delicious, creamy, crunchy, buttery and sweet, the flavor reminds me of a very buttery brazil nut. The Macadamia nuts you purchase in the store have been processed. You may eat these unprocessed nuts fresh from your tree. Be sure to consume them within a month or less. First remove them from their husk and shell. Set them in the shade to dry out for about 2 weeks. Watch out this is the time you're nuts may end up in some ones else's tummy. Approximately 2 weeks, you can eat them or toast them in the oven. It will take new trees approximately 4 to 6 years of age for them to start producing nuts. Besides being yummy, the oil is known to have amazing properties that can rejuvenate our largest organ, the skin. It's loaded with natural anti aging acids, which is always good to have around! Interesting trivia: Did you know that macadamia trees are not native to Hawaii? Years ago an Australian farmer brought his native tree to Hawaii and an entire industry emerged.

Pros: Unique exotic nut - Does well in moist soil - Likes partial to full sun - Attractive when flowering or non flowering - Insect damage minimal Small tree Cold tolerant May be your secret Dorian Gray - Easy to maintain/prune Salt tolerance Make extra money selling nuts on the roadside - Blooming brings in the bees.

Article Photos

Cons: Daily clean up nuts - Non Native status Needs regular watering Slow grower - Neighbors may be stealing nuts when you're not looking - Blooming brings in the bees. 4-6 years to bear nuts

Conclusion: The best place for any macadamia nut is in your mouth; well it also looks good flowering on our tiny treasure. You don't have to visit Hawaii to go nutty for this flower; it's here in our paradise garden location.

Don't wanna miss this bloomer!

 
 

 

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