Seagrape is found along the coast of the Florida peninsula, from Flagler County southward on the east, and Pasco County southward on the west, plus throughout the keys. In addition to Florida the native range includes one gulf coast county in Mississippi, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the northern coastal countries in South America from Peru to French Guiana. Also introduced in Hawaii, a small area of coastal west Africa and much of southeast Asia.
A sprawling shrub that typically grows a little over 2 meters (6 ft.) tall, but can grow as high as 8 meters (26 ft.). Large round, leathery leaves are green, turning red with age or when stressed. Small white flowers are borne in racemes that later form elongated clusters of grape-sized fruit, initially green, then darkening to purple when ripe. Seagrapes have often been used to make jam.
Coccoloba uvifera is highly salt and wind tolerant, and is often used to stabilize beaches. At least part of this salt tolerance is the result of the ectomycorrhizal fungus Scleroderma bermudense which alleviates salt stress in seagrape seedlings. Mild frosts or near-freezing temperatures in its northern ranges can defoliate the plant, but it will recover in spring.
The genus name is derived from the Greek kokkolobis, a type of grape. The specific name uvifera means grape-bearing.
Coccoloba uvifera is a member of the Polygonaceae - Buckwheat family.
Other species of the Coccoloba genus in the Wild Florida Photo database:
Coccoloba diversifolia - PIGEON PLUM
Date record last modified: Aug 30, 2021