Alphabetical Plant Listing

Chrysobalanus icaco (Coco Plum)

Icaco Coco Plum, Icaco Coco-plum, Coco Plum, Paradise Plum, Chrysobalanus icaco var. pellocarpus, Chrysobalanus interior, Chrysobalanus pellocarpus, Chrysobalanus savannarum


Chrysobalanus icaco (Coco Plum) is a medium-sized, slow-growing, creeping or erect evergreen shrub or, rarely, a small tree with multiple smooth to scaly brown or grey stems. Its dense foliage forms a rounded crown. The leaves are alternate, simple, and round. Emerging yellow-green or red-tinged, they become leathery, smooth, glossy, dark-green above and a paler, matte green beneath as they age. In late winter to late summer, with a peak in spring, inconspicuous tiny flowers appear in short, axillary, terminal clusters. They are followed from late spring through summer by a heavy crop of thin-skin, green, plum-like fruit (drupes) turning brownish purple and then black as they ripen. Soft and edible, they have an almost tasteless to mildly sweet flavor and are sometimes used for jams and jellies. Coco Plum provides significant food and cover for wildlife. The flowers attract butterflies, bees, beetles, and wasp pollinators. The fruit is devoured by squirrels, gopher tortoises and other wildlife. The nectar from the flowers produces a dark-colored honey. Native to Florida, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, Coco Plum is found growing in swamps, moist forests and coastal beaches and thickets. Coco Plum makes an excellent landscape plant and is widely cultivated in parts of Florida that are not prone to hard freezes. It can be used as an informal hedge, specimen plant or groundcover.

  • Grows up to 10-30 ft. tall (3-9 m) and 10-20 ft. wide (3-6 m).
  • Performs best in full sun or light shade in clay to sandy, well-drained soils. Tolerates seasonally saturated to seasonally dry soils. Tolerant of inundation with brackish water, it is somewhat tolerant to salty wind but not direct salt spray. Moderately drought tolerant.
  • No serious pest or disease issues. Keep an eye out for lobate lac scale, weevils, algal leaf spots, Botryosphaeria canker.
  • Hedges should be pruned up to 3 times a year to keep them in shape. Bushy shrubs may be pruned into small, multi-trunked trees.
  • Propagate by seed (slow) or by cuttings. Cuttings will root quicker if started in the spring from non-flowering and non-fruiting stems.
  • Native to central and south Florida, West Indies, Mexico, Central America, northern South America, West Africa.

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Requirements

Hardiness 10 – 12
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 10' – 30' (3m – 9m)
Spread 10' – 20' (3m – 6m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low, Average
Soil Type Clay, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Florida
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Ground Covers, Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden

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Holly Guerrio, Roy Poloi, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 10 – 12
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 10' – 30' (3m – 9m)
Spread 10' – 20' (3m – 6m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low, Average
Soil Type Clay, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Florida
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Ground Covers, Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden

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