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Description:
Sea grapes are grown as both spreading, evergreen shrubs and trees that reach approximately 30 feet in height.  The leaves are round, alternate, and measure as much as 6 inches in diameter.  Leaf texture is leathery, and color is bright green to reddish nearest the petioles.  Older leaves are often rust colored before they drop.  Flowers are small and white, blooming nearly year round. Fruits are fleshy and hang in grape-like clusters.  Individual fruits typically measure under 1 inch in diameter.  Immature fruit is green in color, while mature fruits are reddish or purple. 

Habitat:
Sea grapes are common in coastal dunes, backdunes, and hammocks.  They are also heavily utilized as landscaping plants.  

Similar Species:
A related species, the pigeon plum tree (Coccoloba diversifolia) is similar in appearance to the sea grape.  However, its leaves are smaller and elongated rather than round.  It has whitish-green flowers that bloom in spring, followed by fruits that are much smaller than those of the sea grape. 

Range:
The sea grape ranges throughout the American subtropics al and tropics from approximately 25 North latitude to 10 South latitude.  It is native to Florida, the West Indies and the Bahamas, but has been naturalized on both coasts of Mexico, as well as much of coastal Central and South America to northern Peru and Brazil.  It has been introduced as an ornamental into the Indo-Pacific and Hawaii.


 

Sea grapes fruiting during midsummer.  Photo courtesy of K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station. 
 

Detail of the leaves and fruit of the sea grape.  Photo courtesy of K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station. 
 
 

The reddish fruits of the sea grape may be eaten raw, cooked into jellies and jams, or fermented into sea grape wine.