Coccoloba uvifera or Sea Grape is a small tree or shrub that lives along the coast in tropical America and the Caribbean. It is part of the knot weed or Polygonaceae family.
In the tropics, it is planted in coastal areas along streets, as wind protection or hedge. The trunk is used for the manufacture of red dye. The fruits are edible raw and processed into jam or rum. The roots are used for treating dysentery. The wood is used for making furniture.
It is not frost resistant but is an easy houseplant that can stand outside in the summer. It is a very beautiful plant with nearly round leaves, fragrant flowers and edible fruit. And it is very resistant to wind and salt making it an ideal coastal plant.
Coccoloba uvifera is a small tree not more than 8 m tall. But because it usually grows on the beach, it is usually much smaller (2 m) because of the wind.
The trunk is smooth and yellowish.
The leaves are almost round, leathery and large: 25 cm in diameter. The midrib is red and the leaves turn red with age. The tree is evergreen but will lose its leaves when it gets too cold or after a prolonged drought.
The fragrant white female flowers are very small and appear in hanging clusters of 15-25 cm. The male flowers look like dead female flowers. The plant is dioecious: male and female flowers appear separately.
The fruits are pear-shaped, purple-red when ripe and about 2 cm in diameter. The pit or seed in the fruit is bigger than the flesh itself and measuring 1 cm. It is oval with a pointed end.
Common Seagrape, Jamaica Kino, Jamaican Kino, Platterleaf, Sea Grape, Sea-Grape, Seagrape, Seaside Grape, Shore Sea-Grape, Shore-Grape, Uva De Playa
Coccolobis uvifera, Guaiabara uvifera, Polygonum uvifera
Coccoloba is derived from the Greek words kokkos (a core of seed) and lobos (lobe).
Uvifera is derived from the Latin word uva (grape) and ferre (carry).
Tropical America and the Caribbean
Along the beach, in the lowlands just after the beach, bush and grassland. It is particularly resistant to the windy and salty seaside conditions.
USDA zone 10-11, 2 °C
Provide simple but well-draining potting soil. Resists in dry, sandy soils where it is well developed.
Preferably an average minimum temperature of 17 °C
Full sun, tolerates partial shade.
Although it is fairly drought resistant, it grows better with regular watering, especially when it is young.
During the growing season: every two weeks with liquid universal fertilizer
During the winter: monthly
When the pot is too small and the roots are going to grow out of the pot.
Seed or layering
- soak the seeds in water first. Some seeds will swell rapidly, plant them immediately.
- plant the seeds at 0.5 cm depth in a well drained substrate
- cover the pot so that the moisture is retained
- 20 °C
- germination time: 10-21 days
- transplant the seedlings quickly to prevent the roots from becoming too tangled
- keep the seedlings a couple of weeks in a bright location but out of direct sunlight. Then let them get used to direct sunlight gradually.