General Landscape Uses:
An accent flowering shrub in sunny locations. Also an effective and colorful addition to spiny barrier plantings.
Ecological Restoration Notes:
Apparently native primarily along the west coast; otherwise, known mostly from disturbed uplands.
Medium shrub to small tree with long zigzag branches armed with stout pairs of stipular spines. Leaves thin and feathery, light green.
Typically, 8-12 feet in height; rarely to about 20 feet in South Florida. Often as broad as tall or broader.
Moderate to fast.
Florida, where scattered mostly along the west coast; West Indies, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Old World Tropics. Probably now spreading from cultivated plants.
Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.
Coastal hammocks, thickets and disturbed uplands.
Moist to dry, well-drained limestone or calcareous sandy soils, with or without humusy top layer.
Moderate to low.
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.
High; does not require any supplemental water once established.
Showy, in rounded head-like clusters; very fragrant.
All year; peak in winter.
Long brownish 2-3" pod (legume) with a pronounced, curved tip.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Nectar plant for red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops
) butterflies. Attracts pollinators.
Propagated by seed and cuttings. Germination may be speeded up by treating seed with hot water. For cuttings, intermediate (not green, not mature) wood is best.
Ward & Ing (1997
), Nelson (2003).
The flowers are used to make a perfume. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday