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Ardisia escallonioides

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

General Landscape Uses: An excellent specimen or accent shrub in formal and informal landscapes in a wide variety of conditions. It also make a great addition to buffer plantings. Learn more about gardening with marlberry for birds and other wildlife in Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A common element in coastal and interior hammocks and thickets.

Availability: Native plant nurseries. Available in Lake Worth at Indian Trails Native Nursery (561-641-9488) and in Boynton Beach at Sustainscape (561-245-5305) and in Sarasota at Florida Native Plants Nursery (941-322-1915).

Description: Large upright shrub or small tree with a narrow crown. Both trunks and branches are slender and erect; the tips of the branches become arched under the weight of flowers and fruit, one or both of which are almost always present. Trunks 2-3 inches in diameter, and sometimes more. Bark thin, pale gray to almost white. Leaves green, darker above, shiny, 3-6 inches long, persistent.

Dimensions: Typically 8-15 feet in height; to 20 feet or more in South Florida. Usually taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Monroe County Keys north to Flagler, Polk and Pasco counties; West Indies, southern Mexico and Central America. Common throughout most of its range in South Florida, but mostly restricted to the coasts north of Lake Okeechobee. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Hammocks, thickets and pine rocklands.

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

Nutritional Requirements: 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 significant injury.

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 to pink, with noticable yellow anthers.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy in dense terminal clusters. Fragrant.

Flowering Season: All year; peak in fall.

Fruit: Drupe, black and glossy at maturity, 1/4" in diameter, thin fleshed and juicy. Seeds solitary and hard.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. A wide variety of birds eat the fruits. Attracts bee pollinators.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed, which are best de-pulped. Some seeds are apparently not viable. Fruit should be harvested when ripe directly from the mother plant to avoid predation by insects. Start in light shade in moist soils.

References: Nelson 2003, Schaefer & Tanner 1997

Comments: A handsome and very adaptable plant with dark green foliage and one of our more attractive native shrubs when in bloom. Not to be confused with the invasive exotic shoebutton ardisia. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.

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

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Kristen Finch
In habitat, Juno Dunes Natural Area, FL, 2013

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Other data on Ardisia escallonioides available from:

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