Coccoloba uvifera (L.) L.
Polygonum uvifera L.
If there’s a picture of a Florida or Caribbean beach, there’s probably a sea grape tree lurking in the background. This is the native habitat of sea grape, which is also found in Mississippi and Hawaii.
Plants: Trees are up to 10-40' (3-12 m) in height and up to 35' (10 m) wide, often branching broadly. Bark is smooth, peeling, and grayish, with irregular patches of white, gray and light brown.
Leaves: Leathery, broad, almost hairless leaves have prominent red veins. They are alternate and round to kidney-shaped, and up to 8" (20 cm) around. At the base of each leaf stem (petiole) is a red, collar-like sheath, an identifying feature of this species. Leaves become entirely red before they fall in the winter. Young leaves are coppery or bronze-colored.
Flowers: Inconspicuous white flowers appear on thin racemes about 12" (30 cm) long. They have mild fragrance.
Fruits: Flowers become dense grape-like clusters. Each grape is roughly spherical, ¾" (1.9 cm) in size, maturing from green through shades of yellow and red, to deep purple. Fruits appear only on female trees. Each grape contains a single, hard seed.
Edibility: Fruits range from tart to sweet, and can be made into jelly, said to taste similar to apple jelly, or wine. The seed within is hard enough to crack a tooth, so be careful processing or eating them.
Coccoloba uvifera on www.backyardnature.net
Coccoloba uvifera on hort.ifas.ufl.edu (PDF)
Coccoloba uvifera on Hawaiian Plants and Tropical Flowers
Coccoloba uvifera on Wikimedia Commons
Coccoloba uvifera on www.floridaforaging.com
Coccoloba uvifera at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Coccoloba uvifera description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.
Range: Zones 10-11: