Titi

Cyrilla racemiflora
Family: Cyrillaceae

Natural History

Titi, also known as swamp cyrilla, leatherwood, white titi, or he-huckleberry, is a native shrubby tree, known for its attractive, dangling, white blossoms. The showy, fragrant flowers make it a popular ornamental plant.

While the wood is of little commercial value, it is occasionally used as a fuel wood and the trees provide important resources for wildlife. The vegetative growth is a highly- palatable and nutritious browse for white-tailed deer and spreading thickets of titi provide shelter for black bear, deer, other mammals, and numerous bird and aquatic species. Bears like to eat the sweet nectar, as do bees and butterflies. Titi honey is popular with beekeepers and bark of titi has been used to treat wounds.

This member of the Cyrillaceae family is found within the southern Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, from southeastern Virginia, south to central Florida and west to southeastern Texas. It may be found at elevations of up to 500'.


 

Identifying Characteristics

Size/Form: Titi is a small, shrubby, tardily deciduous tree that may reach 25' to 35' in height. It has crooked stems and a short trunk that divides, just above the ground, to form several, arching limbs and a wide-spreading, rounded crown.
Leaves: The leaves are alternately to spirally arranged and grow in clusters near the ends of branches. Leaves are elliptical or oblong to obovate, from 1" to 4" long, leathery and dark green, with prominent veins. Leaf surfaces are smooth above and below and the margins are entire, to finely notched and curling under. The leaves taper at the base and often turn bright red and persist on the tree through the winter months.
Flowers: The fragrant flowers are pinkish-white, in narrow racemes that dangle in clusters, whorled at the tips of last season's branches.
Fruit: The fruit is a stalked, yellowish-brown, spherical to ovoid drupe-like capsule, about 1/8" in diameter, with a persistent calyx at the base and two, brownish seeds inside. The fruits mature in late summer.
Bark: The bark on the titi tree is spongy and reddish-brown with flaky scales. The base of the tree has a whitish-pink hue.
Habitat: Titi grows best in acid and alluvial soils, within river flood plains and along swamp edges, stream margins, low forested flatwoods and other shallow, wet sites. It is tolerant of long-term flooding.

 

Images

   

 

Learn More