General Landscape Uses:
Accent or specimen shrub or small tree along the coast. Buffer plantings.
Ecological Restoration Notes:
A common element of coastal thickets in the Florida Keys and along the east coast. Rarer in Collier and Lee counties.
Available in Boynton Beach at
Native Choice Nursery
Large shrub or small tree with an irregular crown. Trunks short, from which arise many branches. Bark gray with shallow fissures. Leaves compound, the leaflets about 2 inches long.
Typically 8-15 feet in height; to 19 feet in South Florida. Often much broader than tall.
Monroe County Keys north along the coasts to Martin and Lee counties; Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico and Central America. Rare and scattered in Collier and Lee counties where cat's-claw (P. unguis-cati) is more common.
Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida. Habitats:
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:
Moderately low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water, but tolerates short term inunation by salt water from storm surge with minimal damage.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Secondary line; tolerates significant salt wind without injury, but usually is somewhat protected.
High; does not require any supplemental water once established.
White to deep pink.
Semi-showy globose heads. Fragrant.
All year; peak spring-summer.
Reddish-brown coiled pod (legume) splitting open to expose black seeds with a red aril.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Provides food and cover for wildlife.
Larval host plant
for cassius blue (
Leptotes cassius theonus
) and large orange sulphur (
for cassius blue, Florida duskywing (
), Florida white (
), giant swallowtail (
), great southern white (
), hammock skipper (
), large orange sulphur, mangrove skipper (
), Miami blue (
), Palatka skipper (
), southern broken-dash (
), three-spotted skipper (
), twin-spot skipper (
) and other butterflies. Birds eat the bightly-colored arils.
Can be grown from seed removed from the aril. Place seed on top of soil and just cover. Place container in light shade.
Plants in the Florida Keys typically have pink flowers, while those on the mainland are white. It is listed as threatened by the state of Florida.