Largeleaf Geigertree, Beach Botany

28

This week’s wildflower is rare tree that is endemic to Florida.  It only grows in the coastal hammocks of Lee, Monroe, and Miami-Dade Counties. The Largeleaf Geigertree, Cordia sebestena, grows from an erect single trunk to a height of about 15 feet. The tree’s multi branches tend to droop downward.   Leaves are simple and alternate on the branches. Leaves are large, 7” long and 5” inches wide. Shape is ovate to lanceolate. Color is a dark green. Margin’s entire. Leaves are hairy on top and below. Touching the leaf will feel like a light sand paper.

Flowers grow in clusters in the leaf axils at the tips of the branches. Pedicles are attached to a green tubes supporting corollas with five petals and five petal like sepals. Flower color varies from a dark orange to a scarlet red. The inflorescence are clusters of umbels. Fruit is a 2” long pea pod that is fragrant and edible. Blooming occurs spring to fall.

Sebestena is a perfect tree for Fort Myers Beach. It is a relatively small tree and it is salt tolerant. It is easily adaptable to our salty sands.  I have one in my front yard and my next door neighbor has one.

 

James Rodwell