Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 021916 Contents THE RIVER - FEBRUARY 19, 2016
by Gerri Reaves
Sevenyear apple (Genipa clusiifolia)
is an evergreen shrub or small tree
native to South Florida's seacoasts.
It's slow-growing and usually reaches
about 10 feet high, but sometimes as
high as 20. Wide-branching in form
with pale bark, it can be multi- or
Wildlife-friendly and storm-resistant, it
is useful as a buffer, hedge, or screen.
Other reasons to include it in the land-
scape? It is the larval host for the Tantalus
sphinx moths and a nectar plant for the
mangrove skipper, other butterflies and
The tree's common name is mislead-
ing, for the fruit ripens in less than a year,
Egg-shaped and two to three inches
long, the fruit ripens from green to yel-
low, and then develops spots, turns black,
The fruit is loved by some people and
hated by others, but wildlife appreciate it,
particularly mockingbirds, who suck out
the interior and leave hollow skins on the
Eat the fruit only after it turns black,
and consume only the jelly-like pulp, not
the seeds, which can make you ill.
The shiny leaves are up to six inches
long with paler undersides and a leathery
feel. Spatula-shaped and under-curled,
or recurved, they cluster near the branch
ends in erect whorled bunches.
Like its relative, the gardenia, this tree
has very fragrant flowers. Star-like and
tubular, they have white pink-tipped pet-
als and measure about an inch and a half
across. They bloom mainly in spring and
summer but can appear anytime.
Sevenyear apple is dioecious, meaning
that the male and female flowers bloom
on separate plants.
Give it a well-drained spot in full sun
to partial shade. It is tolerant of salt spray
but not salt-water inundation more than
Propagate sevenyear apple with the
many seeds in the fruit or with cuttings.
This plant typically has no serious pest
The fruit has a variety of culinary uses,
such as making sherbet and commercial
pectin. The juice is used as a blue-purple
The wood is used to made tools and a
wide variety of other objects.
Plant Smart explores the diverse flora
of South Florida.
Sources: 500 Plants of South Florida
by Julia F. Morton, Native Florida
Plants by Robert G. Haehle and Joan
Brookwell, The Shrubs and Woody
Vines of Florida by Gil Nelson, Trees
of Everglades National Park and the
Florida Keys by George B. Stevenson,
eattheweeds.com, fnps.org, and lee.ifas.
Plant Smart explores the diverse
flora of South Florida.
Sevenyear apple, a native of South Florida's coasts, is wild-friendly, salt-tolerant, and
photo by Gerri Reaves
In Lakes Park
AMorning Meander at Lakes Park
with a bird patrol guide is sched-
uled for Saturday, March 5 at 8
Meet at Shelter A7. Enter Lakes Park
from Gladiolus and turn right. Drive to
the end of the road and continue through
the parking lot. Shelter A7 is located near
the train station.
This easy walk along clear paths offers
an opportunity to see birds in native veg-
etation with experienced guides pointing
out the many species in this birding hot
spot and crucial nesting area for many
Wear comfortable shoes and dress to
be outside. Bring water, sunscreen and
Lakes Regional Park is located at
7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers. For
more information, call 533-7580 or
This tour is provided in cooperation
with Lee County Parks and Recreation.
It's free with paid parking. Go to www.
Topic At Festival
The people who ensured that parts
of South Florida would be saved
from development will be the
topic of a talk on Wednesday, February
24 during the Marjory Stoneman
Douglas Festival at the Museum of the
This is the 100th anniversary of the
National Park Service but it is also the
centenary of Everglades National Park,
which was established as Royal Palm
State Park in 1916 by some very active
women, headed by May Mann Jennings.
Her commitment lead to Earnest Coe
lobbying for the creation of a national
park with help from Marjory Stoneman
Douglas herself. Legislation was pushed
through Congress in 1934 by Ruth Bryan
Owens, the first female representative
Local historian and author Marya
Repko will make an illustrated presenta-
tion at 1 p.m.
For a full schedule of festival events,
log onto www.evergladesmuseum.org or
Little blue heron photos by Meg Rousher Piping plover
Local historian Marya Repko
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