Ode to Natives (Plants)

Before the storm, I was a worried little bee

What on Earth would become of thee?

I questioned my milkweed and penta, who’s buds had bloomed

And wondered if I’d soon be sweeping them with a broom.

We left them out, and waited for the hurricane to arrive

And I fretted and hoped my little plants would survive.

After the storm, we surveyed the damage,

The frangipani (plumeria), they were at a disadvantage.

The stems broke off, the leaves were gone

But my little native plants, it seems they won.

Not only were the plants still standing and alive,

But they bloomed during the storm, indeed they thrived.


As Hurricane Matthew approached South Florida, we all believed were preparing for a Category 4 catastrophic storm. As we deliberated what to bring in and what to tie down, my small pentas and tall milkweeds caught my eye. They had small buds and were ready to bloom, and it seemed a shame to lose them so soon. But in the garden they stayed. They seemed so trivial to worry about given what we thought was impeding destruction. After the storm, I was surprised to find that they had weathered the storm just like any other South Florida thunderstorm. Indeed, they were new buds on them. The oak trees and gumbo limbo in my yard stood tall and proud, but the umbrella tree (Shefflera) next door, the leaves did find the ground (I wish it had cracked in half).

Driving through town to survey the scene, the evidence is apparent: natives reign supreme. The Tababuia with the beginnings of their yellow flower, were downed by the street, they had lost their power. Brazilian peppers were a wind blown lot (not complaining), but the cabbage palms were decidedly not. Yes, there were exceptions to every rule- in a small forest of pines, one or two fell down, but in much smaller numbers.

This hurricane left my hometown relatively unscathed (thank goodness), and in its wake it left a bit of knowledge: Plant the native plants, something I didn’t exactly learn in college.

Though we in Stuart dodged what was likely to be a nuclear bomb, other places weren’t so lucky. If you’d like to donate time, money, clothes, or other resources, please visit these websites here and here.

PS- After fact checking myself, I found that pentas are in fact not native to South Florida. In fact, they are native to Mexico, thus rendering this article somewhat null. I should really know this by now, but this lesson chooses to reiterate itself again and again: there are exceptions to every rule.