Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Green Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus)

Green Buttonwood is a wonderful replacement for invasive, non-native trees such as carrotwood or Brazilian Pepper, especially in coastal locations.   Green Buttonwood is a low-branching, multi-trunked, shrubby, evergreen tree, which has small leaves.  The inconspicuous, small greenish flowers appear in dense heads in the spring and are followed by half-inch red-brown, cone-like fruits.  When planted in the open, Buttonwood will grow to about 20 to 25 feet tall and wide and is ideal for specimen planting.  The species is less common and grows taller than the Silver Buttonwood.  Due to the attractive, ridged bark and soft foliage, a multi-stemmed specimen can make a nice patio or street tree.  Buttonwood will often take on a picturesque, contorted appearance when exposed to constant seashore winds, creating an attractive specimen.  The crown is more symmetrical half a mile or more from the coast or on the inland side of a tall ocean-front building.  The wood of Buttonwood was formerly used for firewood, cabinetwork, and charcoal making and is very strong.  It is an ideal wood for smoking fish and meats.  A Florida native, Buttonwood is ideal for seaside plantings and is highly tolerant of full sun, sandy soils, and salty conditions.  It also tolerates brackish areas and alkaline soils and thrives in the broken shade and wet soils of hammocks.  Buttonwood withstands the rigors of urban conditions very well and makes a durable street or parking lot tree.  It is tough and long-lasting in the landscape.

Scientific name: Conocarpus erectus
Pronunciation: kawn-oh-KAR-pus ee-RECK-tus
Common name(s): Green Buttonwood
Family: Combretaceae
Origin: native toNorth America
For more information on this and other trees, visit this website: http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/trees, where fact sheets of more than 600 trees can be found