Sea Grape Tree
Coccoloba uvifera – Sea Grape
Other Common Names: Seagrape
Coccoloba uvifera is a flowering plant that belongs to the Polygonaceae or buckwheat family. It is commonly known as Baygrape or Sea Grape, and is inherent in coastal beaches in the Caribbean and tropical America.
It is a dioecious plant, which means that male and female flowers are born and developed on separate plants. Then, fruits are developed by cross pollination with the help of insects such as honey bees.
Sea Grape can be considered as a small tree or sprawling bush, which can grow up to a maximum height of 25 feet or about 8 meters. It has a smooth and peeling bark, that is grayish and speckled with white, light brown, and gray patches. If you cut the bark, an acerbic and tannin-rich sap will ooze out and this red sap is often used for medicinal purposes as a dye.
The large leaves of the Sea Grape are coppery when still young, but turns green when they mature. They are alternate and short-petioled, glossy, leathery, and shaped like beans with wavy margins. They can grow up to 15 centimeters long and have prominent reddish primary vein that extends from the base.
The slightly fragrant flowers are small and white and they grow in terminal racemes. Each flower has five petals and 8 stamens. The flowers are followed by fruit clusters that are pear-shaped and colored green, but turn purple-red as they ripen. The fruits are completely edible and are often made into jams, jellies, and even wine. Even the flowers are edible as they are a good source of nectar and light amber, good quality honey.