Native plants of Cayman

Florida Privet by Joanne Mercille

The female version of the bush bears purple berries, which are irresistible to native birds.

Florida Privet / Forestiera segregata
OLEACEAE

Description
Florida Privet is like a bad-hair-day bush. Densely foliated, with shiny, elliptical and leathery evergreen leaves, it is easily manicured into a high or medium well-groomed hedge.

Each plant is either a male or female gender. The female plants will bear a multitude of purple fruits, but you need at least one male to pollinate them. It is a coveted food source for birds at the onset of spring.

Forestiera segregata is drought-tolerant, but it can also tolerate a seasonal flooding.

Height: 10ft to 15ft
Growth habit: It is a moderate grower; it will form a full dense bush
Flowers: Small cream/yellow flowers along the stem; male and female on different plants; profusion of purple fruits
Soil requirement: Well-drained, weak soil, but can also tolerate some seasonal flooding
Light requirements: Full sun
Environment tolerance: Salt- and wind-tolerant
Nature attracting:
Birds love the fruit.

Distribution
Forestiera segregata occurs throughout the island groupings in the Bahamian Archipelago, Caribbean, Bermuda, and the southern United States.

Florida Privet is locally found on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman.

Horticulture potential
Florida Privet is a versatile plant material, whether it is a showy, urban, manicured hedge or a standard specimen tree. When in bloom, it lights up in a spectacular yellow glow. This no-fuss bush will be happy in harsh, salty and windy conditions, and in weak soil.

About Joanne Mercille
Mercille has called Grand Cayman home since 1997 and she has a keen interest in local flora. She is curator for the National Trust Herbarium and has created an online database for public viewing of the physical herbarium. She is also webmaster for www.caymanflora.org and owns Caribbean Blooms – a native plant nursery. She is an avid gardener and member of the Garden Club of Grand Cayman.

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