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Inkwood, Butterbough
Exothea paniculata
Sapindaceae
 

Copyright by: George D. Gann
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida

General Landscape Uses: An excellent accent tree for residential and commercial landscapes, especially along the coast. Also useful in buffer plantings.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A relatively common subcanopy or canopy tree in rockland and coastal hammocks.

Availability: Native plant nurseries. Available in Lake Worth at Amelia's SmartyPlants (561-540-6296).

Description: Medium tree with tall trunks and a dense crown composed of slender upright branches. Trunks 6-15 inches in diameter. Bark reddish-brown, mottled, thin, separating into large scales and covered with breathing pores (lenticels). Leaves compound, leaflets 2-6, usually 4, firm, dark green and shiny above, 2-5 inches long.

Dimensions: Typically 25-35 feet in height; to 45 feet in South Florida. Taller than broad, except when young when the plant can be quite bushy.

Growth Rate: Moderate to slow.

Range: Monroe County Keys north mostly along the coast to Collier and Volusia counties; West Indies, Mexico and Central America. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.

Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Hammocks.

Soils: Moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate to high; grows best with some organic content and may languish in nutrient poor soils.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: Moderate; generally requires moist soils, but tolerant of short periods of drought once established.

Light Requirements: Light shade to full sun.

Flower Color: White, with an orange disk in the center.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy. Fragrant. Dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants, or polygamodioecious, with a few flowers of the opposite sex or bisexual flowers on the same plant.

Flowering Season: Winter-summer; peak in spring.

Fruit: Orange or reddish-brown 1/2" wide berry turning dark purple when ripe. Summer to fall.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. Birds eat the fruits.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed with some difficulty, but seedlings establish well under parent plants. Seedlings can be transplanted without difficulty, but roots are often slow to establish and staking may be necessary. Best grown in light shade while young.

Comments: An attractive medium tree with dense foliage maintained close to the ground for many years. The wood is very hard, heavy, and durable and much used for crafts and construction. The bark and berries are used to make a homemade ink-like substance in the West Indies.


Copyright by: George D. Gann
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida

Copyright by: Michelle M. Smith, 2018
In habitat, Ned Glenn Nature Preserve, Florida

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley


Other data on Exothea paniculata available from:



 
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