Small tree or large shrub with a broadly rounded crown. Trunks to 10 inches in diameter, but usually much smaller. Bark light gray, broken into short, thick scales. Leaves dark green above, shiny, 2-5 inches long, aromatic when crushed.
Typically 15-20 feet in height; to 29 feet in South Florida. Usually taller than broad.
Monroe, Miami-Dade and Collier counties; West Indies, Mexico and the Bay Islands of Honduras. Very rare on the mainland along the extreme southern coast to about Everglades City. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.
Moist, well-drained limestone or calcareous sandy soils, with humusy top layer.
Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Moderate; tolerates brackish water or occasional inundation by salt water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.
Moderate; generally requires moist soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.
Full sun to light shade.
Red petals with yellow anthers.
Semi-showy clusters with green and purple buds and red flowers.
All year; peak spring-summer.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Provides food and cover for wildlife. Nectar plant for Schaus' swallowtail (Heraclides aristodemius) and other butterflies.
Can be grown from seed.
The crushed leaves have a spicy fragrance. In the 1700s, the inner bark was exported from the West Indies to Europe as a substitute for cinnamon. The outer bark is toxic. It is listed as endangered by the state of Florida.
Keith A. Bradley
George D. Gann
George D. Gann in habitat, Dominican Republic, 2011
Gann, G.D., M.E. Abdo, J.W. Gann, G.D. Gann, Sr., S.W.
Woodmansee, K.A. Bradley, E. Grahl and K.N. Hines. 2005-2016. Natives For Your Neighborhood. http://www.regionalconservation.org.
The Institute for Regional Conservation. Delray Beach, Florida USA.