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Spanish stopper, Boxleaf stopper
Eugenia foetida

Copyright by: George D. Gann, 2013
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida

General Landscape Uses: A versatile and attractive shrub or small tree. It can be used as an accent, as a clipped shrub, and in naturalistic landscapes. It also makes a great addition to mixed buffer plantings. Learn more about gardening with Spanish stopper for birds and other wildlife in Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A relatively common element of coastal hammock margins and thickets.

Availability: Widely cultivated. Available in Lake Worth at Indian Trails Native Nursery (561-641-9488) and in Homestead at Plant Creations Inc. (305-248-8147) and in Boynton Beach at Sustainscape (561-245-5305).

Description: Small tree or large columnar shrub usually with a dense rounded crown from several slim, erect trunks and small erect branches. Bark light reddish-brown, thin, smooth when young, then divided into small, thick scales forming concentric rings around the trunk of older trees. Leaves abundant and persistant, leathery, 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches long.

Dimensions: Typically 8-15 feet in height. Taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Moderate to slow.

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

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 and hammock edges; coastal thickets.

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: Moderately low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water, but tolerates short term inunation by salt water from storm surge with minimal damage.

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: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: White.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy.

Flowering Season: All year; peak in summer.

Fruit: Black or brown berry.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides food and cover for wildlife. Attracts bee pollinators and fruit-eating birds.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from de-pulped seed. Place in light shade. Germination usually occurs within 1 month.

References: Schaefer & Tanner 1997

Comments: See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.

Copyright by: George D. Gann, 2013
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida

Copyright by: George D. Gann, 2018
In habitat, Quail Roost Pineland, Florida

Copyright by: George D. Gann, 2013
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Other data on Eugenia foetida available from:

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