Ready, set, Joe! (wood)
(Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of articles by members of the Sanibel Vegetation Committee dealing with vegetative matters of concern to island residents. For the other articles in the series, visit “http://www.mysanibel.com/Departments/Natural-Resources”>www.mysanibel.com/Departments/Natural-Resources.)
Fragrant. Star-flowered. Evergreen. Salt tolerant. Compact. Sound good? You can have it all with Joewood (Jacquina keyensis).
Enjoy the fragrance of the star-shaped flowers, most pronounced when the flowers are most abundant in July and August, more subtly November through June. The flowers are ivory-white, rising in clusters at the ends of branches. The white petals spread wide when the flowers open. There is a pronounced difference between the male and female flowers, both appearing on the same plant. The fruit ripens in autumn, its tiny berries about 1/3 inch in diameter, orange-red and hard coated when fully ripe.
Classified as a shrub or small tree, Joewood is a slow growing native evergreen with many branches forming a compact round top. It grows in dry soil or silica sand in the immediate neighborhood of the shore or coast; its native range includes southwest Florida, the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. Joewood can be seen in abundance on Silver Key with several specimens also in the City Hall plantings. It is listed as a threatened species due to habitat loss and the lengthy amount of time required for a new plant to produce seed.
“Jacquina” honors Nicholas Joseph von Jaquin, who collected and cataloged many West Indian plants; “keyensis” for the Florida Keys, one of its habitats.
By Resolution No. 89-117 (June 20, 1989), Joewood was named the city plant of Sanibel.
Where can I learn more about native plants on Sanibel? The Vegetation Committee hosts free plant walks from November to April at City Hall to view and discuss the use of native plants. Everyone and their questions are welcome.
For more information, visit www.mysanibel.com/Departments/Natural-Resources or contact the Natural Resources Department at 239-472-3700. Photos of the invasive exotic plants “Worst of the Worst” and the city’s “The Alien Invasion” brochure can also be found on the website.