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.
Typically 10-20 feet in height; to 26 feet in South Florida. As broad as tall or broader.
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.
Moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with humusy top layer.
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.
High; does not require any supplemental water once established.
Inconspicuous. Fragrant. Dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants.
All year; peak winter-summer.
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 (Heraclides aristodemus) butterflies.
Can be grown from seed removed from the outer coating. Scatter seeds over soil and barely cover. Germination is in about a month.
When crushed, the leaves have a lime-like aroma. The wood is much desired for making furniture.
Gann, G.D., M.E. Abdo, J.W. Gann, G.D. Gann, Sr., S.W.
Woodmansee, K.A. Bradley, E. Grahl and K.N. Hines. 2005-2014. Natives For Your Neighborhood. http://www.regionalconservation.org.
The Institute for Regional Conservation. Delray Beach, Florida USA.