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Smooth strongback, Bahama strongbark
Bourreria succulenta

Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013

General Landscape Uses: Accent or specimen flowering shrub or small tree.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A relatively common mid-canopy or ecotonal species in rockland hammocks in the Florida Keys. Very rare elsewhere.

Availability: Native plant nurseries. Available in Lake Worth at Indian Trails Native Nursery (561-641-9488) and in Miami at Pro Native Consulting (786-488-3101) and in Fort Myers at All Native Garden Center (239-939-9663).

Description: Large shrub or small tree with spreading branches that droop toward the tips. Trunks erect, about 2-6 inches in diameter. Bark thin, light brown tinged with red, slightly roughened. Leaves smooth, shining, about 2-3 inches long. The leaves can be hairy or even rough when plants are immature, sometimes leading this to be misidentified as the very rare B. radula.

Dimensions: Typically 10-15 feet in height; to 28 feet in South Florida. Can be as broad as tall in the sun, but usually taller than broad in the shade.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Monroe County Keys and Miami-Dade County; West Indies and northern South America. Very rare on the mainland south of the Miami River. 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: Coastal hammocks.

Soils: Moist, well-drained limestone or calcareous 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: 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: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: White.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy, about 1/2" wide. Aromatic.

Flowering Season: All year; peak summer-fall.

Fruit: Bright orange to reddish-orange drupe.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and cover for wildlife, including hummingbirds and other small animals. Nectar plant for Bahamian swallowtail (Papilio andraemon), giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), julia (Dryas iulia), large orange sulphur (Phoebis agarithe), mangrove skipper (Phocides pigmalion), southern broken-dash (Wallengrenia otho) and other butterflies.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from de-pulped and scarified seed. Germination may take 1-2 months.

Comments: It is listed as endangered by the state of Florida. Horticultural synonyms: B. ovata.

Copyright by: George D. Gann
in habitat, Everglades National Park, Key Largo, Florida, 2013

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Other data on Bourreria succulenta available from:

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