The Return of the Majestic Mastic

The mastic tree had been in my yard for many years before I noticed it. Cradled next to a giant strangler fig, the trees’ high branches are mixed together in a very high canopy. Over the years,  I realized it was a special tree that I should know more about. Mastic trees are high hammock trees native to Florida, attracting much wildlife and growing slowly to great size. The mastic tree, the hammock tree, the forgotten tree, the tree mindlessly chopped down in my hometown of Sewall’s Point…

There used to be a large mastic at the entrance to High Point at River Road. It was cut a few years ago in favor of pentas and mulch. A few months ago, I  discovered another one on an empty lot located at about Ridgeview and River Roads. Covered in a thorny vine, few would notice the huge trunk covered in different colored fungi, like a piece of God’s art. Ancient and otherworldly. A reminder of days long past before non-native plants, floratam grass, fertilizers, and pesticides would replace a tangled forest and contribute to the death of the St Lucie River.

Just recently, my mastic dropped gooey, orange berries and the wildlife ate them with relish. I have been trying to grow the seeds, now wrinkled and brown, in my quest to bring my yard closer to what it was prior to development and help the river and soil, but the squirrels and raccoons raided my pots! Proud to outsmart my four-legged friends, I “ingeniously” figured out how to protect the seeds in an old aquarium. But just today,  I learned that mastic trees are male and female. Dropping the orange seeds, I believe I have a female.

I am afraid I might have one of the last mastic trees in Sewall’s Point. She needs a companion if there is to be the return of the majestic mastic. We are calling your name…

http://sfrc.ufl.edu/extension/4h/ecosystems/_plants/Mastic/index.html

Historic photo of Sewall’s Point’s once “tangled forest”: Andrews in Sewall’s Point Hammock, approaching a giant mastic tree, 1905. Courtesy Thurlow Archives, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

10 thoughts on “The Return of the Majestic Mastic

  1. I read two native plant books and neither says that the Mast Tree is dioecious. Seeds should be planted as soon as possible after the fruit is ripe. Remove the flesh, leaving only the seed when planting.

  2. The unbridled development in this state needs to be stopped. What are our legislators doing to slow it down before it is too late.

  3. Hi Jacqui – I just returned from today’s SFWMD board meeting and want to express my gratitude for your wonderful service as a voice for the estuaries and the critters! You are an inspiration to the other board members, the fine SFWMD staff, and the public – thank you so much!

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