By: Amy Grant
If you live along the coast and are looking for a plant that is wind and salt tolerant, look no farther than the sea grape plant. What are sea grapes? Read on to find out and get some additional seaside grape information that can be useful when deciding if this is a suitable plant for your landscape?
A tropical tree found in the tropics, the sea grape plant (Coccoloba uvifera) is often used in ocean-side landscaping. Growing sea grapes can be found in sandy soil right on the beach and it produces clusters of fruit that resemble grapes.
The tree tends to branch off into multiple trunks, but can be trained (pruned) to form a single one and its size can be maintained to that of a shrub. It can grow up to 25-30 feet (7.5-9 m.) high when left unchecked. After about 10 years of training the tree, sea grape care is minimal and needs only to be watered and occasionally pruned to maintain the desired shape.
They are most often utilized to create a windbreak or hedge, although they make attractive specimen plants as well. They do well in urban environments and have even been used as street trees along boulevards and freeways.
Sea grape has very broad leaves of between 8-12 inches (20-30 cm.). When immature, the foliage is red in color and, as they age, they change color until they are green laced with red veins. The plant blooms with flowers of ivory to white, which grow in clusters on short stalks. The resulting fruit also grows in clusters and can be white or purple. Only female plants produce fruit but, of course, the male plant must be nearby for her to produce.
Since the fruit looks so much like grapes, one wonders are sea grapes edible? Yes, animals enjoy sea grapes and humans can eat them as well, and they are used to make jam.
Keep in mind that the tree does create a bit of a mess from dropping fruit and debris, so select a planting site accordingly. The pollen from the blossoms has been known to cause significant allergy symptoms in sufferers as well.
While the sea grape plant is tolerant of salt, making it an ideal coastal plant, it will truly thrive in fertile, well-drained soil. The plant should be situated in a full sun exposure. Older plants are able to survive temperatures of 22 degrees F./-5 degrees C., but young plants are likely to die.
Sea grapes are propagated naturally via their seed, but this method does not give you any control over the gender or other characteristics of the tree. Taking a cutting from an existing plant may obtain a more predictable result than that obtained from seeded seedlings.
Additional sea grape care cautions to water the plant routinely until well-established. Prune sea grapes regularly to maintain its shape and remove dead branches.
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Sea grape is a native plant found in coastal areas of Central and South Florida. Its bold, evergreen foliage and colorful fruit also make it a fun choice for home gardens. Sea grape gets its common name from the clusters of red, grape-like fruits that the female plants produce.
Additionally, is Sea Grape poisonous? Sea Grape Coccoloba uvifera Sea grapes may be eaten raw. The plant is so named because it grows only along seashores. Edible and poisonous plants of the Caribbean region .
Similarly, you may ask, how tall do sea grapes grow?
When grown on the beach, the wind and salt spray shape the plant into a low-growing, sprawling shrub. Inland, sea grape may grow up to 50 feet tall, boasting a tapered, vase like habit.
Can you eat raw sea grapes?
How They Are Consumed In Japan. In Okinawa, they are often eaten raw, with soy sauce, or a mix of soy sauce, vinegar, and mirin. This is a kind of side dish that you can find in many restaurants. Sea grapes go particularly well with beer!
The sea grape plants can be grown by seed or by cuttings. Growing from seed is quite simple.
The pulp is removed from fruits and the seed is planted in a sterile substrate such as perlite. Keep your seeds moist and at about room temperature and they should germinate in about 3 weeks.
3-4 inch (7.5-10cm) cuttings of this plant will also take well in moist soil and warm, humid environment.
This plant can be planted in partial shade but prefers full sun. This plant is a tropical species and therefore does not tolerate temperatures below freezing. This plant does best when grown in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11.
If subjected to freezing conditions, the leaves of this plant will turn red before falling. Older specimens may survive brief frosts but this plant is certainly not suitable for cold climates.
Sea grape bush prefers well-drained soils of a neutral to slightly alkaline pH but can tolerate 5.8-8. Like most coastal plants, sea grapes are very tolerant of windy conditions.
It is important to bear in mind that this is a dioecious species, which means that individual plants are male or female but not both.
Fruits are only produced on female plants and require fertilization by nearby male plants. Therefore, if you plan on growing this plant for its fruits, it is recommended that you take cuttings from both a male and female plant and grow one of each in close proximity.
Alternatively, You can grow a handful of plants from seed and select a male and female once identifiable, although patience is required as these plants may take as long as 6 to 8 years to begin flowering.
Fruit edible color is purple-black the fruits grow clusters the look and taste of the fruit remind grapes with imagination
Well drains soil, male and female plants
What is the best way to start growing?
Plant / Seed / Vegetative Reproduction
How to propagate:
Propagation by cutting better to start in the early spring or with at least temperature of
26C, requirements: moist soil, high humidity, peat soil, hormone for root growth, highly recommend to use green house (or small plastic box with holes).
Is it necessary to graft or use vegetative reproduction?
No, but if the is not place it’s better to graft male and female stem on the same plant
Difficulties or problems when growing:
How to plant:
Dig a hole as deep as the current root ball plus extra 20-40%, put in the hole organic matter, hummus and dried leaves and mix it with some soil, put the tree and loos little bit the root ball above the hole, plant the tree and cover it and don’t push the soil too much strong but not too much lightly because it won’t be stable, after this put mulch to keep moist on soil, put water, for the next two weeks put every day (better in the morning) , better to take care that the plant will be stable, and if not support it with bamboo or a stick that it won’t fall.
In tropics climate can be all year in colder area spring
Pests and diseases:
Autumn / Winter
How to prune:
Recommend to keep it small easier to pick the fruits also prune design and dead parts, for tree when young need to prune all the side branches or shrub need to prune the top of the main trunk in order to induce more side branches, and as vine need to help the tree by trellising and cut anything that not go with this way.
Size of the plant?
1-10m, 3-30 feet
Growth rate speed in optimal condition:
Fast growing in the right condition, medium growing in les optimal condition
Average amount of water / Big amount of water
Light conditions in optimal condition for growing:
Full Sun, half shade, full shade with light
Is it possible to grow indoor as houseplant (indoor)?
Sea grape plant care indoor:
Need to know that as houseplant need to care that will have enough light, the soil will be well drained and ventilated
Growing is also possible in a planter /flowerpot / containers:
Yes, size of the container at least 25-50 liter (6.5-13 gallons) possible bigger and also possible to grow it also in small as bonsai, better start with container that bigger than the plant at least 70-90%, need to switch the container to bigger when root ball over grow the container, better to switch in the winter, when the plant arrive to the desirable size of container need to switch the soil once in a few years by new soil when switch to new soil cut roots and prune the plant, need average amount of water with good drainage, soil can be potting mix or peat soil with perlite, better to use bottom for the pot.
Spring / Summer
General information about the flower
White flowers grow in cluster, female and male flowers that grow on separate plant
Thinning the bloom:
Not enough pollination from the male trees
Pollination is done by:
Fruit harvest season:
Spring / Summer
Fruits pests or diseases:
What can be done with big quantities of Sea grape fruits?
Eaten raw, juice, jams, alcohol
Work requirements on the fruit:
Pick the fruits
How long does it take to bear fruit?
Moist soil, humidity, if there is enough seeds just put them direct in the garden in sunny location keep the soil moist and well-drained soil
Saving seeds until sowing:
Dry and dark location
Spring – better in spring but possible also in the summer and in tropical climate possible all year, possible to start indoor in the end of the winter,
In different pots, or just to through a lot if seeds in hole and choose the better quality
Depth of Sowing:
How to plant:
Dig hole bigger than the seeds and cover and better to cover with vermiculite
Conditions for seeds germinate:
Moist soil, high humidity, hot weather (better in green house)
Watering requires for Seeds:
Average to big amount of water, need good drainage and to check when grow in pots not that the soil will be viable
Possible 1 month but 4-8 months until 1 year and even more (2 years after sowing possible that it will germinate)
Condition of seedling:
Full sun, moist soil, watering regular and better humidity
Light exposure requirements: Full sun Plants
Requirements for watering the plant: Big amount of water, Regularly water
Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
From seed direct sow outdoors in fall
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
On Sep 4, 2018, FloriDaze from Oviedo, FL wrote:
I live in zone 9b, 40 miles west of the coast and on the south shore of Lake Jesup. I bought five sea grapes from a local nursery several years ago and they are doing great. They get morning to early afternoon sun and are never in total shade. They do like to grow up instead of out, so I have to prune them to keep their height down and encourage them to spread out a bit. Our central Florida winters have been warm since I planted them, except for last year, with two mild freezes. They rebounded nicely. Each year I get more and more blooms producing grapes, but never seem to be able to get to them before the birds eat them. I am happy to see seedlings this year for the first time.
On Nov 1, 2014, hangitup from Cape Coral, FL wrote:
I have a sea grape within a foot of our sea wall. My husband is afraid the roots will crack the wall. Does anyone know how far away it should be planted. My tree is only 4ft tall and could be transplanted, but I like it where it is.
On Oct 29, 2014, perrya from Larkfield-Wikiup, CA wrote:
I have one growing in Santa Rosa, CA. located in the wine country.
On Feb 29, 2012, johnnydo from Loxahatchee, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:
Great tasting fruit - like grape jelly. Each fruit has a little flesh around a large seed.
On Jan 31, 2011, TarponDeb from Tarpon Springs, FL wrote:
Would appreciate more information regarding propagation of sea grape tree from a cutting. Such as, where is the best place to cut? How deep should the cutting be planted? Does it help to soak the cutting prior to planting? Thank you! :D
On Nov 9, 2009, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:
Love the round leaves. Mine dies to the ground but returns. In 2008 I covered it so the plant would be more advanced in the spring, and it worked. So I will continue to winter protect.
Did not survive winter of 2010 despite protection. Will not replace. This is truly a coastal plant and not worth the trouble in my garden. Still adore the round foliage but I'm trying to simplify chores, so sea grapes do not fit in my plan.
On Jul 30, 2007, LEEBLACKM3 from Cape Coral, FL wrote:
Easy to grow and propagate this plant requires very little maintenance. The fruit, which clusters like grapes, is edible but not to everyone's taste.
Here in Southwest Florida one simply cuts off a two foot section from the top and plants the cut end in the ground. Instant new Sea Grape.
The down side is that these plants grow like crazy down here and they are messy. The leaves are large and after they turn from green to red they fly like frisbees all over the place. Considering the size, the fallen leaves can block out sun from smaller plants and strain relationships with neighbors.
Older specimens like mine have a trunk up to six inches with branches up to four inches. Keeping them trimmed down to waist or so height produces a tight cluster of. read more leaves suitable for hedges. Letting them grow produces a 'shade tree' (or arbor if you have them planted right).
On Jul 13, 2006, jtmiller from Pasadena, TX wrote:
Was not sure it would grow in the Houston area however my plant has done fine over the past 3 years. It has even survived the freak snow we had here a year ago near christmas. Each winter is has died back but only about a foot from the tips and this year actually produced fruit! Near my pool it adds an awesome tropical feel!
On Aug 1, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:
Growing up, our neighbor had large tree right by the seawall, which provided some much appreciated shade. The fruit was tart making good jelly. It propogated easily, always lots of seedling sprouting up, which, I suppose could become invasive if not kept after, and the seeds were most unpleasant on bare feet in the pathway.
On Jul 31, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:
Sea Grape is one of the best native plants in South Florida. It is very easy to grow, requires little water as it grows naturally in the wild, provides food and shelter for wildlife, and is very attractive with lush foilage. It is native and grows naturally along the beaches on coastal dunes and in the tropical hardwood hammocks of coastal central and southern Florida from Cape Canaveral and St. Augustine as well as Tampa Bay southward throughout the Keys. It is very salt-tolerant and extremely hardy, as it grows exposed on the dunes along the coast to harsh winds and strong hurricanes. It's berries provide food for native wildlife and it's leaves and branches provide shelter for people and wildlife. I have a young, about 4-feet-tall sea grape in my backyard and it is growing very well, ev. read more en though I don't water it at all! It grows very quickly and is getting lots of new leaves, which are reddish-orange when brand new or freshly sprouted from the branch. It can tolerate a wide range of soils and even grow far inland (but not as far west as the Everglades!). I'd recommend this plant very much for your yard, and if you have a wildlife or native plant garden, this plant is exceptional!
MORE INFORMATION - The sea grape is actually a tree that can grow up to 40 feet tall but can be maintained as a hedge as long as it's trimmed frequently or cut back. The plant often forms ridges on coastal dunes, highest on the top of the dune, then shrinking in size as it extends down the dune toward the sea and shoreline. It is found in zones 9, 10a, 10b, 11 and below.
On Nov 19, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:
One sees this plant everywhere on the long barrier islands off of St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, Florida. The barrier islands are mostly overdeveloped, and you can only see the beach behind the multi-story condos, hotels and restaurants from the minuscule public access parks, where you have to run back and put a quarter into the parking meters every few minutes.
So this plant is a good choice for this commercial area, as the plants are pretty low maintenance, and can grow to great size--up to 30 feet, but usually kept lower--as they provide some greenery, along with the palm trees, in an otherwise sea of concrete and asphalt.
I've also seen sea grape used in back yards in St. Petersburg--along alleyways to hide parked cars and garbage can. read more s, and as part of dense, low-maintenance, evergreen shrub borders, where the plants help provide privacy for small back yards in the most densely populated place in Florida. In these types of areas the large, fleshy, maybe even coarse looking leaves, and huge size of the plant are attractive, but I wouldn't plant one in a flower bed with prized sub-tropical and tropical plants.
On Nov 18, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:
This is a common plant in Rio de Janeiro, mostly planted along the oceanic avenues.
I like the reddish veins on some leaves, but besides it, I donґt find it so atractive. There are prettier trees that could be planted on their place. And Iґve seen a lot of them in trouble with aphids.
On Sep 5, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
There is no way to tell if you're buying a male or female plant. And the female sea grape needs a nearby male to cross pollinate and bear fruit. You may want to purchase several plants to increase your chances of getting grapes.
This plant tolerates windy conditions and can act as a windbreak. It can also stabilize sand dunes, and provide habitat for wildlife including protection for nesting sea turtles from artificial light (street lamps, car headlights, outdoor house lighting).
These are salt-tolerant native plants. Florida beach homes are the perfect setting for these plants provided you have the space needed.
The sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera) is a small, multi-stemmed coastal tree native to Florida and the Gulf Region. This attractive tree takes salt spray, poor soil and drought in stride. It produces a rounded canopy up to 25 feet high with leathery, dark green, disk-shaped leaves that turn bright red in fall. A delicious jelly is made from the mature fruits, which resemble rounded, green grapes. These tough trees are often used in coastal gardens, parking lots and streetscapes. They can be easily propagated by using cuttings.
Select a healthy, actively growing, green branch from a sea grape tree in April or May.
Make a clean, diagonal cut about 8 to 10 inches from the tip of the branch with a sharp knife. Strip away any leaves from the lower two thirds of the cutting, leaving the terminal buds intact. Wrap the cutting in moistened paper towel and place it in a plastic bag. Keep the cutting cool and shaded, and plant it as soon as possible.
Fill a clean 6-inch pot with a mixture of one part coarse sand and one part peat-based potting mix. Water the pot until water drains from the bottom and the mixture is evenly moist. Use your finger to make a 3- to 4-inch deep hole in the center.
Dip the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the cutting into rooting hormone powder. Follow the instructions on the product label carefully, and use care not to inhale the powder or get it on your skin.
Insert the cutting into the hole and firm the soil gently. Water the pot until water runs from the bottom and place the cutting in a warm, sheltered place, in filtered sunlight. Keep the soil evenly moist but never allow it to become waterlogged.
When new growth appears, gradually move your plant into partial sunlight and water the pot once a week.
Transplant your sea grape cutting into a large pot or outdoors when it has filled the pot with roots and shows active growth. Select a location that is sheltered from strong winds, with sandy, well-drained soil.
Be sure to take your cuttings from a female tree if you want to use the fruit for jelly, because males do not produce fruit.
Try growing variegated cultivars for a striking specimen adapted to coastal conditions.