Published on: August 09, 2023

The Circle Bed in front of the Visitor Center was planted with some eye-catching and interesting plants for our summer 2023 display.  Many of these plants are native to warm climates in Africa, Madagascar or in Central or South America and work well in Oklahoma summers.  The majority of the plants highlighted below are not winter-hardy in our area, but can provide a striking look and tropical feel to your summer garden. They are also a great display of various plant adaptations for living in hot climates.  See how many you can find! 

Pachypodium lamereiMadagascar Palm

  • Native to Madagascar – it’s a succulent, not a palm
  • All parts of plant are toxic if ingested
  • Pachypodium means “thick foot”
  • Photosynthesizes mainly through its stem, instead of leaves
(click on photos to see larger image)
Euphorbia tirucalliPencil Cactus

  • Native to Africa
  • Latex in the stems can cause temporary blindness
  • Been studied to grow to use in production of rubber and fuel
pencil cactus
Senna didymobotryaPopcorn Plant

  • Native to Central and eastern Africa
  • Gets its common name of popcorn plant due to leaves being described as smelling like buttered popcorn, however other descriptions of the fragrance include “wet dog”.  
  • Striking yellow flowers with black-green buds
Alluaudia proceraMadagascar Ocotillo

  • Native to south Madagascar
  • Spiny succulent shrub
  • Though similar in appearance it is not closely related to ocotillo found in the Sonoran desert (Fouquieria splendens)
Ananas comosusPineapple

  • Native to Central and South America and the Caribbean
  • They are bromeliads (in the family Bromeliaceae) so they are related to Spanish moss and air plants (Tillandsia) 
  • Save the top of the next pineapple you cut up and grow a new plant!
Agave – various

  • Native to arid areas in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean
  • Succulents some species are hardier than others, many have toothed leaf margins or pointed leaf tips


Salvia leucanthaMexican Bush Sage

  • Native to Mexico and Central America
  • Purple and white velvety flowers bloom late summer
  • Flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds
Pedilanthus tithymaloidesVariegated Devils Backbone

  • Native from southern Florida and the Caribbean to Venezuela
  • Sometimes sold as a houseplant
  • Roots, stems and leaves toxic
Vitex trifolia purpureaTropical Vitex

  • Native to coastal regions of tropical east Africa as far east as French Polynesia.
  • Underside of leaf is purple


Thymophylla tenuilobaDahlberg Daisy

  • Native to Texas and Mexico, annual in our area
  • Fragrant, fine blue-green leaves
  • Yellow daisy-like flowers about size of a nickel
Lavandula x intermediaLavender Grosso

  • French hybrid lavender
  • Said to have one of the strongest fragrances
Plumeria sp. – Plumeria

  • Native to Mexico and Central America
  • Flowers traditionally used in Hawaiian leis
  • Fragrant flowers – be sure to sniff these by the Visitor Center entrance!