Wednesday's Wildflower: Common Torchwood

Amyris elemifera, Common Torchwood

By Beryn Harty, Dade Chapter, edited by Valerie Anderson

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 for 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. She lives full time on Ramrod Key.

Other Links

Institute for Regional Conservation link: Common torchwood, Sea torchwood

USF Plant Atlas: Amyris elemifera

FNPS: Torchwood


Anonymous said…
Could you provide instructions on how you grew them from seed? How deep did you plant them? Did you score the seeds first? What kind of substrate? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks!
Chris said…
Beryn is a "she"
Beryn Harty said…
As I mentioned in caption, the photo was taken of new growth on a roadside plant, and not one which I grew from seed. That said, I did grow some from seed a couple of years ago. As I recall, I let the seeds dry completely prior putting them in a pot and covering with a layer of dirt about 1/4" (one quarter inch) and then watering.

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