Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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RUGEL'S FALSE PAWPAW
Endemic to Florida
Endangered Florida species
U.S. Endangered species
A very small rare shrub of pine flatwoods only occurring in Volusia County Florida.
Growing from 20-50 cm (8-20 in.) tall, sparsely branched with green or brown, often solitary stems that are frequently arching. Leaves are aromatic, alternate, oblong, entire, often with revolute margins, from 1-8 cm ( 3/8 - 3 in.) long. The flowers appear in mid-spring on slender stalks from the leaf axils. These small flowers have from 6 to 15 fleshy lemon-yellow petals and 3 green sepals. There are occasional variants with a red tint to the petals. The fruit is an elongated 2.5 to 6 cm (1 to 2-1/2 in.) long, yellow-green berry - typical of the Annonaceae (pawpaw and custard-apple) family.
Like all members of this plant family, Deeringothamnus rugelii is a host plant for zebra swallowtail caterpillars. Gopher tortoises are known to eat the fruit. This plant grows on specific soil types in pine flatwoods.
The species was named for Ferdinand Rugel who traveled in the southern United States in the 1840s and discovered several new species while in Florida. The genus was named by botanist John Kunkel Small in honor of his friend and patron Charles Deering.