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Crabwood, Oysterwood
Gymnanthes lucida

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Accent shrub or small tree. Buffer plantings.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A relatively common sub-canopy tree in hammocks within a limited geographic range.

Availability: Native plant nurseries. Available in Homestead at Plant Creations Inc. (305-248-8147) and in Boynton Beach at Sustainscape (561-245-5305).

Description: Small to medium tree with and erect trunk and narrow crown. Trunks to 6-8 inches in diameter. Bark gray to dark reddish-brown, outer bark flaking to expose light brown inner bark. Leaves tropical semi-deciduous, dark green, about 2-4 inches long.

Dimensions: Typically 10-25 feet in height; to 33 feet in South Florida. Usually taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Slow to moderate.

Range: Monroe County Keys and Miami-Dade County; disjunct in Palm Beach Countyn where historically extirpated; West Indies, Mexico and Central America. In Miami-Dade County, known only from the Miami Rock Ridge south of the Miami River and the Florida Keys in and around Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park. Collected once in Palm Beach County at Lake Worth in 1891, probably on the island of Palm Beach (Mr. Spencer s.n. A). For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website; note the X symbol in Palm Beach County.

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.

Soils: Moist, well-drained 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: 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: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: Female flowers red, males green.

Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous; the flowers are unisexual.

Flowering Season: All year; peak spring-summer.

Fruit: Inconspicuous green capsule turning brown at maturity.

Wildlife and Ecology: Gray lichens grow directly on the leaves. The flowers are wind pollinated.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed.

References: Hammer 2004

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida,
with characteristic epiphyllus lichens

Copyright by: Beryn Harty, 2021.

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

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Other data on Gymnanthes lucida available from:

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