Mouse’s Pineapple, Beach Botany

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This week’s wildflower has a strange name for strange plant. Mouse’s Pineapple, Morinda royoc, belongs in the Rubiacaeae (Madder) family. A long-lived perennial that is endemic to coastal hammocks in a few southern counties. Royoc is a small prostrate plant that would be hard to find. A semi-woody vine that grows from a single stem into a sprawling patch. Leaves are oblanceolate in shape. Leaf size is 2 to 4 inches wide and about 1 inch wide. Margins are wavy.

Typically, most flowering plants have an appendage called a pistil that houses the female sex organs and particularly flower ovaries. If the pistil is above the flower petals, it is called Superior Ovaries. If it is below the flower petals, it is Inferior Ovaries, which is the most common for wild flowers. Royoc, however, did not evolve that way. There are female sex organs but no pistil. The ovaries are in a yellow cluster exposed to the weather. Calyx sepals, corollas and stamens rise above the ovaries. Female sex organs pass upward through the center of a white five petal flower about 3/8 of an in diameter. Upon pollination, the flowers and sepals drop off and the ovaries produces seeds. The cluster becomes a bright yellow pineapple. Cutting the pineapple in half will expose the seeds.

Royoc also goes by another name, Redgal. I have no idea what that means. The specimen in the photo was shot in the Cutting Horse demonstration garden in Bonita Springs. The garden was established by the Coccoloba Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

 

Photo by James Rodwell