Wednesday's Wildflower: Common Torchwood

Amyris  elemifera, Common Torchwood
Submitted by Beryn Harty, Miami-Dade Chapter 

Photo by  Beryn Harty, Taken on roadside, Ramrod Key, FL

Family Name: Rutaceae
Genus/Species: Amyris elemifera
Common Name:  Common Torchwood (Another common name is Sea Torchwood, which is deceiving because  it's salt tolerance is rather low. According to the IRC, " It grows near salt water, but should be protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation."

Native Range: Eastern peninsular Florida, the West Indies, Mexico and Central America (Belize)
What kind of plant is it? : A flowering tree?
Any interesting history: Green wood used as torches, twigs are burned as incense.
What is the shape, color and size of the flower? Clusters of tiny white flowers, new leaf growth often very dark purple

What is the typical natural habitat? Hammocks
What benefits does it have with wildlife? Provides food and cover for wildlife. Larval host for Bahamian and Schaus Swallowtail butterflies. Birds and mammals eat fruits.
Propagation: (seed, seedling)
Availability: Grown by some native nurseries.  Growing from seed sometimes successful (I’ve done it, myself).

Beryn Harty is a member of Miami-Dade Chapter FNPS as there is no current Keys chapter.  He lives full time on Ramrod Key. 

Other Links
IRC link: Common torchwood, Sea torchwood
USF Plant Atlas: Amyris elemifera
FNPS: Torchwood


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