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Smallfruit varnishleaf
Dodonaea elaeagnoides
Sapindaceae


General Landscape Uses:

Accent shrub.

Ecological Restoration Notes:

Rare along the margins of rockland hammocks in the Florida Keys.
Availability:
Grown by enthusiasts.
Description:
Medium to large shrub with erect stems. Leaves 1-2 inches long.
Dimensions:
About 4-8 feet in height; rarely to 16 feet in South Florida. Usually taller than broad.
Growth Rate:
Moderate.
Range:
Monroe County Keys; West Indies. In the Monroe County Keys, native to North Key Largo, then disjunct to Big Pine Key and nearby islands; apparently never collected on the island of Key West. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map of D. viscosa in the broad sense, visit the Exploring Florida website. Populations in the Florida Keys are D. elaeagnoides, those along the east coast are mostly D. viscosa var. viscosa, while the most widespread taxon is D. viscosa var. angustifolia, which is found near the coast in Martin County, in the interior, and along the southwestern coast.
Habitats:
Edges of and openings in rocklands hammocks.
Soils:
Moist, well-drained limestone soils, with or without humusy top layer.
Nutritional Requirements:
Moderate to low; it prefers soils with organic content, but will still grow reasonably well in nutrient poor soils.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.
Drought Tolerance:
Moderate; generally requires moist soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.
Light Requirements:
Full sun to light shade.
Flower Color:
Greenish-white.
Flower Characteristics:
Inconspicuous. Predominately dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants.
Flowering Season:
Spring-fall.
Fruit:
Winged capsule; green to pinkish.
Horticultural Notes:
Can be grown from seed. Capsules can be smashed or placed into a dry blender to separate the seed. Plant in container with 2" or more light potting soil. Place in the full sun.
Comments:
This is the only species of varnishleaf (Dodonaea) in the Monroe County Keys; it is absent from the mainland. It is listed as endangered by the state of Florida.


 


David Schroeder
in habitat, Antigua, Lesser Antilles
David Schroeder
in habitat, Antigua, Lesser Antilles