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Sea Grape

Sea grape is native to sandy shores of the American tropics. It is a small tree, sometimes reaching to 30 feet. Its leaves are evergreen, thick and leathery, and rounded. They are alternate on the stems, dark shiny green when mature, but light green or red when immature. Its leaves are usually 4-10 inches long and equally as wide. Sea Grape flowers occur continuously in the southern tip of the state, but only in the summer nearer the northern extent of its range. They are rather small, but are arranged on easily visible spikes from 6-12 inches in length.

Its fruits are globose to pyroform and about 0.75 inch in diameter and borne in clusters. Its skin is pubescent, enclosing an edible pulp and single seed. The pulp of Sea Grape is eaten directly and makes an excellent jelly. The sea grape appears not to be grown commercially, but some fruit from native plants is harvested. It forms one major component of the vegetative association, which occurs on the crest of the primary sand dunes and immediately behind them. In protected areas behind the dunes, this species grow to 45 feet in height with trunk diameters of 12 inches or more.

The fruits are purple or greenish-white, three-fourths of an inch long, rounded or oval-shaped. They ripen in late summer, or all year, depending on location. The flesh is edible although the large seeds occupy most of the volume. Those who enjoy utilizing wild fruits prize Sea Grape jelly.

Sea Grape bark is thin, smooth, light brown, and marked with large irregular patches of a lighter color. The Sea Grape is important in stabilizing the primary sand dunes and ocean strand in coastal areas. This tree is resistant to both wind and salt. When found along the exposed coastline, it typically takes on a shrub like appearance but when grown in more protected areas, it can attain heights of 6 to 8 meters. When mature, the grapes become red violet in color.