Pond Apple, Beach Botany

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Pond Apple, Annona glabra, is a woody shrub that is categorized in the Annonaceae (Custard Apple) family. It is a long-lived perennial that resides on the edges of swamps and sloughs. I have even seen it growing in a lake. The shrub has multiple trunks with a grayish bark. Height is 15 to 30 feet and width to 15 to 20 feet. Leaves are simple and alternate on the branches. Glossy green leaves have a leathery texture. Leaf shape is ovate to elliptic. Length is 3 to 6 inches and width 2 to 3 inches. Margins entire. Glabra is also deciduous, the leaves falling off at the end of the growing season. Hydrophobic lenticels are found on the lower branches. These lenticels open and close when water rises and falls. This is gas exchange, similar to the Red Mangrove. Oxygen in and Carbon Dioxide out.

Flowers grow from leaf axils. Inflorescence is solitary. Flower’s corolla has three large outer yellow petals 1 to 11/2  inches in diameter and three smaller inner petals about  1 inch in diameter. The calyx has three greenish sepals. Flowers are fragrant and dangle downward. Fruit is a light green pod that turns dark brown when ripe. Pod can hold 100 brown seeds that are dispersed by water. Blooming occurs in the spring.

Glabra is endemic to Florida. Distribution is in the southern part of the State. The Genus Annona has one more species, Annona squamosa, Sugar Apple. This species is not native to Florida. The specimen in the picture was found in a retention pond in Lakes Regional Park.

Photo by James Rodwell