Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cocoplum's Are Bursting Out All Over

Cocoplums, Chrysoblanus icaco, in my yard are more heavily laden with fruit than I have ever seen them. These shiny shrubs flower and fruit "intermittently all year," says the literature, which makes it a surprise when they do.

The fruit is edible for both wildlife and people; it's slightly sweet with a hard shell surrounding the nut. This feature actually qualifies it as a 'drupe.'

You can make jelly from the drupes using any standard recipe from your good old standard cookbook. However, I must say,  I think if you are going to the bother of it, you would get more flavor and nutritional benefit from blueberries. However, you can do it.

The little flowers are delicate and give off a delicate fragrance as well. Here are some tightly closed buds and a few opened flowers. They smell great!! No icon for that, darn. 

 
In the next two frames, you see the progression: buds, flowers and the newly formed fruit, first green, then red.



The fully formed drupes can come in peachy colors, but mine are all this dark purple. Insides are white, though, like a coconut! Is that where it got its name I wonder?

Cocoplums come in at least three cultivars, an all-green, a red-tipped, and a horizontal form. They occur naturally in Zones 9 - 11, although near the coast I have seen them a bit further northward. They are often associated with various wetland systems, but are one of those plants that can withstand drought with ease.

They are useful in many capacities in the home landscape because they are so dense right down to ground level. This makes them good for screening unwanted views. They can also stand alone as specimens, and are adaptable to pruning as well. If left alone, they can go 15 feet or higher, or, you can shear them off and make a lower hedge if you wish. You see them frequently in commercial settings all squared off up against buildings. Ugh.

These cocoplums were among the first things I planted when I moved in here. What you don't see is that they are completely hiding the neighbor's huge metal shed.

                                     
                                               Shiny, happy, red-tipped cocoplums up close.



sue dingwell

15 comments:

Ginny Stibolt said...

Cocoplums are good additions to your rain garden. They can withstand standing water and also our 7-month drought.

Annie Schiller said...

I love your writing style Sue. "Shiny, happy, red-tipped cocoplums up close." So fun to read and great pictures too.

The Jolly Bloggers said...

Thanks for the nice compliment, Annie! I can't help it, plants just make me feel good! Sue

Rufino Osorio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rufino Osorio said...

Hi Sue, love the article and the pictures (what's not to love about coco-plums?). "Coco" is an English corruption of the Spanish name for this plant ("icaco"). And the Spanish name is itself a corruption of a native American name for the plant ("ikaku"). By the way, the word caicos (as in Caicos Islands) is yet another alteration of the aboriginal name of coco-plums. Don't forget that the oily seeds are also edible (they are easy to extract from rather soft-shelled kernels) and taste a little like almonds.

The Jolly Bloggers said...

Thanks, Rufino! So interesting! This really is one of those cases where the word unravels history.
And I did not know the seeds were edible either. Sue

Distinctly Florida said...

What a fun post and I think it is great that you are highlighting this wonderful plant. Where can I get nutritional info on it? I made cocoplum jam and it was delicious! I have eaten the nuts, too. Very good. A sauce can be made to go over meats or desserts. I'm definitely going to experiment more with this fruit.

The Jolly Bloggers said...

Hello and thanks for the compliment. Glad you're making use of tHIS lovely native outside of the landscape. I found the nutritional breakdown of Cocoplum on page 9 of the following .pdf: http://academic.cengage.com/resource_uploads/downloads/0538734973_301247.pdf . I hope you'll continue reading some of the great posts on this blog!

Distinctly Florida said...

Thanks for the nutritional info. I assume they were only testing the pulp and not the nuts? I wonder why?

The Jolly Bloggers said...

Only the edible portions of the fruits were tested. You may be confusing the stone inside of the fruit with a nut. Think of it as the equivalent of a peach pit.

The Jolly Bloggers said...

After thinking a bit more about it I believe that you are talking about the seed inside of the stone, which is definitely edible. The nutritional info for seeds is not typically presented in charts like those.

Anonymous said...

How far apart do you plant the cocoplum potted plants for a dense privacy hedge?

The Jolly Bloggers said...

Space plants 40 to 60 inches on center. When planted too closely, there is a tendency for them to exhibit more drought sensitivity than properly spaced plants.

Deb Smith said...

Are the cocoplum berries toxic to dogs

The Jolly Bloggers said...

Not according to the ASPCA