Description: Small to medium tree or large shrub with a cylindrical crown from many small, irregularly-shaped branches. Trunks generally short, to about 10 inches in diameter. The branches bear many sharp, hooked spines. Bark gray, rough. Leaves compound, aromatic, about 3-4 inches long.
Dimensions: Typically 10-20 feet in height; to 26 feet in South Florida. As broad as tall or broader.
Growth Rate: Moderate.
Monroe County Keys north to Volusia, Marion and Citrus counties; Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Texas, Mexico, Central America and South America. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.
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: 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.
Flower Color: Greenish-yellow.
Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous. Fragrant. Dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants.
Flowering Season: All year; peak winter-summer.
Fruit: Orange-brown glandular punctate follicles opening to reveal small, shiny, black seeds.
Wildlife and Ecology: Provides significant food and moderate amounts of cover for wildlife. Larval host plant for giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) butterflies. Perhaps a secondary larval host for Schaus' swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus) butterflies.
Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed removed from the outer coating. Scatter seeds over soil and barely cover. Germination is in about a month.
References: Hammer 2004, Nelson 2003, Schaefer & Tanner 1997
Comments: When crushed, the leaves have a lime-like aroma. The wood is much desired for making furniture. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.
Copyright by: James Johnson, 2014 In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida Expand
Copyright by: James Johnson, 2014 In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida
Copyright by: George D. Gann, 2018 In habitat, Quail Roost Pineland, Florida
Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley
Copyright by: Michelle M. Smith, 2018 In habitat, Ned Glenn Nature Preserve, Florida