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Blacktorch
Erithalis fruticosa
Rubiaceae


General Landscape Uses:

Accent shrub. Buffer plantings.

Ecological Restoration Notes:

A rather common element of coastal thickets in the Florida Keys; rare elsewhere.
Availability:
Grown by one or two native plant nurseries in South Florida. Available in Key West at Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden (305-296-1504).
Description:
Medium to large densely-leaved shrub. Bark dark brown striped with light brown. Leaves flat, 1-3 inches or more in length.
Dimensions:
About 4-8 feet in height. Usually taller than broad.
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate.
Range:
Monroe County Keys north along the east coast to Martin County; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Rare in southeastern Florida outside the Florida Keys. In Broward County, known only from Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.
Habitats:
Coastal hammocks.
Soils:
Moist, well-drained to moderately well-drained limestone or sandy soils, with humusy top layer.
Nutritional Requirements:
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:
High; can tolerate moderate amounts of salt wind without injury.
Drought Tolerance:
Moderate; generally requires moist soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.
Light Requirements:
Full sun.
Flower Color:
White.
Flower Characteristics:
Semi-showy.
Flowering Season:
All year.
Fruit:
Shiny purplel to black drupe; juicy.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Provides food and cover for wildlife.
Horticultural Notes:
Can be grown from de-pulped seed. Plant in container with 2" or more of soil. Sprinkle soil to just cover the seeds and place in full sun.
Comments:
It is listed as threatened by the state of Florida.


 


George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013
George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013
Roger L. Hammer
Shirley Denton