Pigeon plum

Coccoloba diversifolia
Family: Polygonaceae

Natural History

Pigeon plum, sometimes called doveplum and pigeon seagrape, is one of the larger seacoast trees found in central and southern Florida, the Keys, the West Indies, and the Bahamas. Pigeon plum is an excellent ornamental tree for yards and streets in south and central Florida coastal areas because of its resistance to high winds, salty conditions, and drought. It is tolerant of salt spray and often grows well in sandy, rocky, or broken coral soils near tidewater areas. Pigeon plum is recommended as a good hurricane resistant species for barrier plantings.

The fruit is eaten by numerous wildlife species, especially doves and pigeons, hence its common names. The white-crowned pigeon is a frequent visitor. Other wildlife that is known to eat the fleshy fruits and seeds include raccoons, small rodents, mockingbirds, catbirds, robins, and woodpeckers.

The heavy, dark, reddish-brown wood has some limited use in furniture manufacture and cabinetry. The wood is hard and strong but may be brittle, so its commercial value is limited.

Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) is a related tree that is also common in coastal areas in Florida. Seagrape is limited to beaches and dunes whereas pigeon plum grows more in coastal hammocks and sandy soils near tidewater. Both trees are frequently used in yards and streets in southern and central Florida.


 

Identifying Characteristics

Size/Form: Pigeon plum is a medium sized, evergreen tree that can reach heights of 60' to 80' but more commonly averages from 30' to 40'. It is smaller and more shrub-like in the northern parts of its range. It has dense, spreading branches and a round-topped crown.
Leaves: The leaves are simple, alternately arranged, 3"-4" long, and oval to lanceolate in shape. The upper surface is bright green and the underside is paler. The leaf base is wedge-shaped or rounded and the leaf tip is acute or rounded. The leaf margins are slightly wavy and rolled under.
Fruit: The fruit is a thin walled, light brown nutlet encased in a tubular, dark red, berry-like pulp about ¼" to ½" long.
Bark: The bark is dark reddish-brown, smooth, and thin but may become scaly on the largest trees.
Habitat: Pigeon plum grows in sandy soils and hammocks near tidewater areas.

 

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