A Yellow Flowering Tree: The Tabebuia: Dr. Edwin A. Menninger, The Man Who Brought It To Stuart, Florida
This is an article about Dr. Edwin A. Menninger who gave Stuart, Florida many tropical flowering trees, including the Tabebuia. Stuart is in South Florida. We are fortunate to have warm weather most of the year so we can grow tropical plants. We do lose some plants due to hurricanes and the occasional frost.
I guess every town has citizens who are known to be prominent for one reason or another. One of the most outstanding men who lived and worked in Stuart, Florida was Dr. Edwin A. Menninger. Dr. Menninger came to Stuart in 1923 to start a newspaper. He called it The Stuart News. It is still being published. He published the newspaper for 35 years. Dr. Menninger died in 1995 at the age of 98.
Two Of Dr. Menninger's Books On Flowering Trees
Dr. Menninger Was An Amazing Man
Dr. Menninger amazed people. Even though he was quite busy running the newspaper he found the time to study books on flowering trees. He told people that he became interested in flowering trees after viewing a travelogue of New Zealand and seeing the beautiful flowering trees in bloom in Christchurch. He began comparing those spectacular trees with those that dotted the landscape in Florida at that time: Coconut Palms, Australian Pine, Surinam cherries, and Mango trees. When our area was first created there were many Royal Poincianas that bloomed. He decided that Florida (which means flowering in Spanish), needed more blooming trees. He set out on a mission. He wanted to bring more flowering trees to our area. It was because of his study of these trees that he gained the title “Flowering Tree Man of Florida”. Later he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Florida State University.
In 1956, Dr. Menninger published his first book, What Flowering Tree Is That? He donated copies of this book to every high school in Florida. He wrote seven other books on Flowering and tropical trees that are still available. He wrote well over fifty magazine articles dealing with trees and shrubs.
Dr. Menninger Begins To Plant The Seeds
His search for flowering tree seeds started about 1935. He began contacting plantsmen in countries all over the world asking them for seeds of their flowering trees. The seeds came in by the thousands and he planted them. At one time he had 15,000 seedlings in containers in his yard! Then he had to find a way to get these trees distributed throughout Florida.
He wrote articles in The Stuart News about these trees. Garden clubs would visit Dr. Menninger's home where he would give slide show lectures on flowering trees. He distributed more than 10,000 seedlings around Florida in the hope that they would grow and contribute to the beauty of Florida. He gave away thousands of seeds to anyone who would promise they would be planted. More and more seeds came, and he enlisted the aid of the United States Plant Introduction Garden to help propagate the overflow.
They raised thousands of plants in their garden and distributed them. People would come from all over the state to get a seedling from Dr. Menninger.
Cluster of Yellow Tabebuia Blossoms
Dr. Menninger's Favorite Tree Was The Yellow Tabebuia
His favorite among the flowering trees was the Tabebuia. These trees grow 15 to 25 feet. The flowers are 1-4 inches wide and are produced in dense clusters. They range in color from white, light pink, yellow, lavender, or red. He was most fond of the yellow color, and it’s easy to see why. This flower is spectacular when the tree is in bloom.
Dr. Menninger supplied seedlings of the Tabebuia trees where they would be planted all along our streets and neighborhoods. This tree blooms a beautiful yellow in the spring. Hurricanes and occasional frosts have destroyed many of these trees, but many remain. His dream was that our streets in Stuart, Florida would be lined on either side with these trees.
Every spring these Tabebuia trees bud and bloom in all their glory.
The Tabebuia Tree Growing In A Cow Pasture
A Yellow Carpet From The Yellow Tabebuia Tree
A Yellow Tabebuia on a Garden Tour
The Yellow Tabebuia Can Be Seen In Stuart, Florida
I decided one Sunday morning recently to go out and take some photos of this beautiful tree while it is still in bloom. Soon the blooms will blow to the ground and cover the ground in a yellow carpet. Whenever I see one of these Tabebuia trees in bloom I think of Dr. Menninger. Because of one man’s interest, hard work, and love, we can still enjoy the fruit of his labor. I can only hope that our citizens will gather the seeds from this tree and keep his legacy alive.
These beautiful trees can still be seen along the streets of our town. If you want to see true beauty put here by a devoted man, Dr. Edwin A. Menninger, I would welcome you to come and visit Stuart, Florida in the spring.