Friday, June 4, 2010

Gopher Apple


Truly one of our very favorite plants in the sandhill is the gopher apple (Licania michauxii.) This diminutive shrub (above ground stems typically no more than a foot tall) spreads by underground stems to form small colonies. The alternate leaves are smooth on the surface and often fuzzy beneath. The plant overall looks very similar to oak seedlings. The gopher apple is happy in deep sands found in Florida sandhill, scrub, and coastal dune systems. As you might suspect from the places it is found; it very salt tolerant and also tolerant of and recovers quickly from fire. In the spring and early summer they are covered in tiny greenish yellow flowers soon to be followed by their namesake fruit. The fruit is egg shaped and white to purple in color and highly favored by gopher tortoises as well as most other wildlife (including yours truly.) You will find a real nice patch of gopher apple on the sandhill trail just north of the big tortoise burrow. And although the fruit is edible, we ask you leave them for the gopher tortoise! :-) Thanks!


Jo Marquez said...

Any tips on propagation?

Jo Marquez said...

Any tips on propagation?

Kristen said...

Gopher apple is super tricky to propagate. I've head negative reports of root cuttings and tissue cuttings and finding the seed is a challenge.

I found an article from FNPS that read in part: "Seeds don't ripen all at once, but over a period of weeks. They are white or pink when ripe and smell like apples, but don't be tempted to eat them because they are not tasty!

The seeds must be gathered when ripe because they won't ripen after picking. And, of course, it would not be in the best interest of the gopher apple to pick all the
seeds in a patch. The seeds must be planted immediately, because if the kernel dries in the sun, the embryo dies.

The flesh around the seed must be
scraped off. I rub them on hardware cloth,and then plant them in a large pot in a sandy mix with no peat, usually two seeds to a pot. Fertilize and water lightly;
it's easy to over-water them.

The seeds sprout right away, and can be sold after about six months when the plants are about 6" tall and have six to eight leaves. After a year and a half,they can be sold in gallon-size pots."

I hope this helps!

The rest of the article is here: