Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 022616 Contents THE RIVER - FEBRUARY 26, 2016
by Gerri Reaves
Autograph tree (Clusia rosea) was once
found in the wild in southernmost
Florida, including the Keys, but wild
populations might be extinct and it might
exist only as a cultivated plant.
In addition, its native status is in question
among plant scientists.
One theory is that the tree found in
the Florida Keys in the mid-1800s were
introduced from Cuba or the Bahamas.
Like the native strangler fig (Ficus aurea),
it sometimes begins as an airplant, lodging a
seed in the crown or boots of a cabbage palm
and sending down aerial roots.
This long-lived evergreen grows up to 30
feet high. The dense foliage and the spreading
rounded canopy make it a good shade tree.
However, this plant can be pruned into a
shrub and used as a hedge, screen or buffer.
It can even be espaliered, but be prepared
to deal with the latex it exudes.
The opposite oval leaves are leathery,
smooth, and thick, with a prominent mid-vein
and paler undersides. Stiff and smooth-edged,
they measure up to eight inches long.
It is called the autograph tree because
people sometimes write on the leaves, which
permanently retain the inscriptions.
An alternate common name, pitch apple,
derives from the fruit's resinous material that
has been used as ship caulking.
Other common names include clusia,
Caribbean monkey apple, and Scotch
The woody round fruit is about three inches long with
a large whorl of sepals, or modified leaves, at the stem
end. Upon ripening from green to brown, it splits open
to reveal black seeds in a red fleshy interior. Birds and
other wildlife eat the seeds, but the fruit is poisonous for
The six-petaled camellia-like flowers measure about
three to four inches across. White and pink-tinged with
yellow stamens at the center, they bloom during the
warmer months, appearing on the branch ends.
This highly drought-, salt- and wind-tolerant species is
a good choice for coastal landscapes, but makes a good
low-maintenance tree for a variety of yards. Just watch
out for the aggressive roots, another characteristic it
shares with the strangler fig.
The tree prefers sun to partial shade and moist
conditions. It will not tolerate frost.
Propagate it with seeds and cuttings
The close-grained hard heavy wood has many uses,
including furniture-making, and the plant parts have
many traditional medicinal uses.
Sources: Florida Landscape Plants by John V.
Watkins and Thomas J. Sheehan; Florida, My Eden by
Frederic B. Stresau; Native Florida Plants by Robert
G. Haehle and Joan Brookwell; Pity the Pitch Apple --
Treat It As A Spreading Tree by Julia F. Morton; The
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida by Gil Nelson;
Waterwise: South Florida Landscapes by the South
Florida Water Management District; edis.ifas.ufl.edu; and
Plant Smart explores the diverse flora of South
Autograph tree is a wildlife-friendly low-maintenance
species with large attractive leaves on which people
sometimes inscribe names or initialsphoto by Gerri Reaves
Spots Still Open For 'Ding' Darling
& Doc Ford's Tarpon Tournament
A100 percent purse promises to make the 5th annual "Ding" Darling & Doc
Ford's Tarpon Tournament on May 7 one of the hottest competitions on the
water. It pays out the entire entry fees as tournament awards. Registration
deadline is April 29.
The competition is limited to 50 teams and 23 spots remain. The team fee of
$500 for up to four anglers also includes a captains dinner the night prior and awards
ceremony dinner the evening of the tournament. All events take place at Doc Ford's
Rum Bar & Grille on Fort Myers Beach.
Doc Ford's -- with locations also on Sanibel and Captiva -- has again committed to
being the title sponsor, along with the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the
Diversified Yacht Services of Fort Myers Beach will, for the fifth consecutive year,
provide support at the presenting sponsor level.
Proceeds benefit wildlife and conservation education at JN "Ding" Darling National
Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel.
"There's not another tarpon tournament like this in the area," said Marty Harrity,
Doc Ford's co-owner. "In past years, we've had fishermen from all over the country.
Last year, we paid out $25,375 in awards to five out of 48 participating teams. We
already have 24 teams signed up for this year -- way ahead of past years."
"Doc Ford's has been a faithful supporter of our efforts at 'Ding' Darling, helping
greatly to bolster refuge programs and research to balance federal budget shortfalls,"
said Birgie Miller, DDWS executive director. "Last year, we raised $50,000 for the ref-
uge as a result of sponsorships, donations and auction proceeds. We're so grateful to
Doc Ford's for this huge effort on our behalf," she added.
For more information, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/tarpon-tourney. Anyone inter-
ested in becoming a tournament sponsor may contact Miller at 292-0566 or director@
Platinum sponsors are Suncoast Beverage, Florida Weekly, The Gresham Family,
Hogey Lures; gold sponsors are Anisa Stewart Jewelry, Bella Signs & Designs, Island
Inn, John Grey Painting, Media Source, Raisers Edge, Sanibel Gear, Sanibel Island
Marty Harrity, Doc Ford's co-owner; Birgie Miller, DDWS executive director; Sarah Lathrop,
DDWS associate director; and Toni Westland, "Ding" Darling supervisory refuge ranger America's
The San Carlos Bay Sail & Power
Squadron is offering America's
Boating Course beginning
Saturday, March 5, from 8:15 a.m. to
12:30 p.m. This course is recognized
by the National Association of State
Boating Law Administrators. The State
of Florida recently passed legislation
requiring anyone born after January
1, 1988 to have passed a safe boat-
ing course and obtain a Boating Safety
Education ID card, which is valid for life,
in order to operate a boat with more
than 10 hp. Each student will receive
a card/certificate from the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Commission upon comple-
tion of the class.
The course consists of two sessions on
consecutive Saturdays. The second ses-
sion will be on Saturday, March 12 also
from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Topics covered include hull design,
docking, anchoring, handling boating
emergencies, reading channel markers
and many other topics to make each
boating experience safer and more enjoy-
able. The cost of the course is $45 with a
$20 cost for a second person sharing the
It is being taught at the San Carlos
Bay Sail & Power Squadron classroom,
16048 San Carlos Boulevard at the cor-
ner of Kelly Road. Students can register
online at www.scbps.com or by calling
the office at 466-4040.
Links Archive RWN 021916 RWN 030416 Navigation Previous Page Next Page