Florida Hopbush Tree
Dodonaea viscosa – Florida Hopbush
Other Common Names: ‘A’ali’i, Hawaiian Hopseed Bush, Kumakani
Dodonaea viscosa is a flowering shrub that belongs to Sapindaceae or Soapberry family. It is an evergreen plant, which means that it is always green and has leaves all throughout the year. Its common names include Hawaiian Hopseed Bush, Kumakani, ‘A’ali’i, and Florida Hopbush.
This shrub can grow rapidly, even in poor soil condition, that is why it is often used as a barrier plant . It often grows from 4 to 20 feet, but can reach up to 25 feet or 8 meters tall. It remains shrubby with its beautiful rounded shape and several branches, yet can also assume the form of a small tree.
The leaves of the Florida Hopbush are dark green and can grow up to 4 inches long. They have a glossy top and sometimes also have a resinous, sticky coating. They also have a leathery texture, but still pliable. The shape can be lanceolate, oblanceolate, or narrowly oblong, with tiny pointed tips that are purplish red.
Flowers grow in bunches on long, slender stalks that are close to the branches. They are typically small, only growing to about 0.25 inches in diameter. The colors are a bit inconspicuous as they can either be yellowish or greenish. When they pollinate, they emit a strong odor, which is distinct when in close proximity. Then, they produce winged capsules containing 2 to 3 small black seeds. As they mature, they turn red, purple, or brown in color.
It should be noted though that the plant is poisonous. It contains saponin,which is a soapy, foaming substance that is bitter and toxic.