Large shrub or small tree with a spreading or irregularly rounded crown, with heavy mostly upright branches. Trunks 3-6 inches in diameter, rarely larger in South Florida, straight or crooked, usually branching close to the ground. Bark thick, red-brown to dark brown, rough. Leaves smooth and thin, 2-7 inches long. A temperate semi-deciduous species in South Florida, losing most or all of its leaves during cold periods.
Typically 10-20 feet in height in South Florida; to 27 feet in Florida. Often broader than tall.
Fast to moderate.
Widespread in eastern and southern North America west to Texas and California and south to Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland; Cuba, Mexico and Central America. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.
Swamps and wet thickets.
Wet to moist, poorly-drained to well-drained, usually organic soils.
High; requires rich organic soils for optimal growth.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.
Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.
Full sun to light shade.
Creamy white or yellow.
Tiny tubular flowers in showy dense globular heads, 1 to 1 1/2" in diamter, emerging from the ends of new growth. Fragrant and nectar bearing.
Nutlet, green to dark brown, 3/4" in diameter.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. Nectar plant for clouded skipper (Lerema accius), Deleware skipper (Anatrytone logan), Horace's duskywing (Erynnis horatius), ocola skipper (Panoquina ocola) and sachem (Atalopedes campestris) butterflies, bees and other insects. Deer browse the leaves and young twigs. Ducks feed on the seeds. Provides excellent cover and nesting for birds.
Can be grown from seed and cuttings. Sow seeds as soon as mature.
An excellent shrub for wet spots in the garden.
Roger L. Hammer
James Johnson, 2014 In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida
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.