Coco Plum (Chrysobalanus icaco) is a plant found along sea beaches and inland regions of tropical America and the Caribbean. Locations include: southern Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas.
The plant can grow as a shrub or a tree. Shrubs grow from 3 feet to nearly 10 feet in height; bushy trees grow to 30 feet in height. A coco plum plant has broadly-oval to round, green, leathery leaves. Newer leaves are red or have a pinkish tinge near the tip. The bark is grey or reddish brown with flecks of white.
Coastal forms of the plant are highly tolerant of salt and are often planted to stabilize beaches and prevent erosion. Although coco plum plants are commonly uses as ornamental shrubs, they cannot survive a hard frost.
As shown at left, coco plum plants produce small clusters of white flowers in the late spring. As shown below, in late summer clusters of dark purple, oval fruit, resembling black olives, are produced. The fruit is edible, has a mildly sweet flavor, and is used for making jams and jellies.
Seeds in the fruit contain a lot of oil and can be strung on a stick and burned like a candle.
You will see coco plum plants growing throughout the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center campus.
© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer).
Please report errors to Susan Snyder @ email@example.com
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