The Rambles returns after recovering and drying off from the hard work and adventures in island planting. As many know, the “Butterfly Rainforest” is a living exhibit, that is, the plants and animals change constantly. Sometimes these changes are small and sometimes they are big – as in massive 75-pound cycad big.
The “Butterfly Rainforest” has featured a large cycad, Ceratozamia robusta, since it opened 13 years ago. Originally planted in the southeast corner of the exhibit, the plant had become nearly hidden from public view. Anyone familiar with this species knows that even though it has a lovely and interesting upward growth pattern, it also features unforgiving thorns covering its 6-foot-long branches. This has made planting around this beast a challenge over the years, and Rainforest staff finally made the decision to remove it.
However, rather than simply destroy one of the few remaining original plants, we decided to give it a new home, far away from where we normally plant. The project required five employees who spent about five hours trimming all of its branches, treating the root ball with fungicide and, as gently as possible, carrying it down a waterfall to move the Ceratozamia to its new home on the exhibit island for all to see.
Yes, the job was a little more than we bargained for – more like a Zumba class – but with any luck this cycad will become a focal point of interest for visitors. Hopefully this will include you the next time you visit the “Butterfly Rainforest!”
Photos by Ryan Fessenden