Medium to large tree with an irregular, rounded crown. Trunks large, erect, buttressed at the base, to 3 feet in diameter. Bark brown to gray brown or reddish-brown, thick, broken into thick plates exposing inner bark. Leaves glossy, dark green to yellowish-green with a wavy margin, 2-6 inches long.
Typically 30-60 feet in height; to 118 feet in South Florida. Taller than broad.
Monroe County Keys north, mostly along the coasts, to Volusia and Manatee counties; West Indies and Mexico. Very rare in the middle and lower Monroe County Keys. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.
Moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with humusy top layer.
Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
High; can tolerate moderate amounts of salt wind without injury.
High; does not require any supplemental water once established.
Inconspicuous but foul-smelling.
Spring-fall; peak in summer.
Yellow-orange berry, about 1" long. Edible. Winter-summer.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Provides significant food and cover for wildlife.
Can be grown from seed.
The fruits are edible raw, but the latex is very sticky. The wood is used for ship building in the West Indies.
George D. Gann
Steve Woodmansee Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
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.