A mystery tree in Albert Lea

Published 9:00 am Thursday, October 1, 2009

About three years ago Jayne Villarreal was reading a magazine and saw an advertisement for a tree she thought might add a little color to the front of the home she and her husband, Bill, own on Fairview Drive.

“It was supposed to have purple flowers,” she said.

The tree was ordered and after arrival was planted as planned in the front yard.

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“It was like a foot-long stick,” she added.

Last year the tree started to grow and attained a height of a yard or so.

Now this tree is at least 10 feet tall with leaves that are huge.

Those leaves are almost like small branches. There are 21 leaves on this tree, and each leaf is about 18 inches long and 20 inches wide. One of the leaves broke off, and this showed that the stems are hollow like one might expect with bamboo.

The mystery factor comes with trying to indicate the actual name for this particular tree.

“I’ve lost the paper work,” Jayne explained.

There’s also the thought that maybe the tree she ordered was replaced with something else. Anyway, the tree in front of the Villarreal residence has obviously adapted to the seasonal weather in this area.

However, this lack of a name hasn’t been overlooked by family members, neighbors, and people who pass by on their daily walks on Fairview Drive.

The tree is known as the “ugly one,” “Thumbelina’s tree,” and either overgrown rhubarb or hibiscus gone wrong. And for others the tree serves as a reminder of an old story about Jack and the Beanstalk.

“The tree is supposed to grow to 25 feet, and I’m still looking forward to seeing the purple flowers,” Jayne said.

Anyone who can identify this particular tree can help solve the mystery by calling 373-6627.