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Varnishleaf, Florida hopbush
Dodonaea viscosa var. viscosa

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Accent shrub along the east coast.

Ecological Restoration Notes: Sporadic in coastal strand along the east coast.

Availability: Native plant nurseries. Available in Boynton Beach at Sustaincape Florida (561-245-5305).

Description: Large erect shrub or rarely a small tree. Bark reddish-brown or gray, thin, flaking off in strips. Leaves flat, stiff, yellowish-green, very glossy, 3-6 inches long.

Dimensions: Typically 10-15 feet in height. Taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Miami-Dade County north along the east coast to St. John's County; West Indies, South America and the Old World. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map of D. viscosa in the broad sense, visit the Exploring Florida website. Populations in the Florida Keys are D. elaeagnoides, those along the east coast are mostly D. viscosa var. viscosa, while the most widespread taxon is D. viscosa var. angustifolia, which is found near the coast in Martin County, in the interior, and along the southwestern coast.

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: Coastal thickets.

Soils: Moist, well-drained sandy soils, with or without humus.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate to low; it prefers soils with organic content, but will still grow reasonably well in nutrient poor soils.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: High; can tolerate moderate amounts of salt wind without significant injury.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: Yellowish-green.

Flower Characteristics: Inconspicuous. Predominately dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants.

Flowering Season: Spring-fall.

Fruit: Winged capsule; green to pinkish.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed. Capsules can be smashed or placed into a dry blender to separate the seed. Plant in container with 2" or more light potting soil. Place in the full sun.

References: Miami-Dade County Landscape Manual (2005).

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann, 2016
In habitat, Piñones State Forest, Loíza, Puerto Rico, Enlarge

Other data on Dodonaea viscosa var. viscosa available from:

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