White Stopper is a thin, evergreen tree or large shrub that grows to a height of 25 feet. It has white, splotchy bark and is native to Florida, where it grows in sandy coastal regions.
The Latin name, "Eugenia axillaris," translates to “armpit tree” because the tree often produces a pungent skunk-like odor, created by evaporation of volatile oils from the leaves.
The leaves are small and opposite. They emerge as bright red, changing to green in a few weeks.
As shown in the photograph at left, the flowers are white or creamy-yellow with yellow stamens. They appear in axillary clusters in the summer, but do not last very long.
The fruits are globose or pear-shaped berries that contain a lot of juice. These berries are edible to people and an important food source for birds.
White stopper's medicinal use by people is to stop diarrhea. The leaves and blossoms are infused as a tea.
We have four varieties of stoppers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center. The white stopper grows along the Hammock Trail and the Ecotone Trail. Three additional stoppers grow along the Ecotone Trail: Redberry Stopper (Eugenia confusa), Simpson's Stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans), and Spanish Stopper (Eugenia foetida). In Florida, the Redberry Stopper is endangered.
© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer).
Please report errors to Susan Snyder @ firstname.lastname@example.org