Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tree Thursday - Silver Buttonwood

Silver Buttonwood
Conocarpus erectus var.sericeus

Silver buttonwood, a Florida native, is a variety of buttonwood that usually grows as a low branching shrub with several trunks, but under ideal conditions silver buttonwood can become a handsome vase-shaped tree up to 50 ft tall with a 20 ft  spread. The evergreen leaves are oblong to lance-shaped, 2-4 inches long and arranged alternately. Whereas typical buttonwood has glabrous (hairless) leaves, the leaves of silver buttonwood are covered with a dense mat of silky hairs which imparts a beautiful silver-gray color to the plant. The flowers are inconspicuous but the fruit clusters are rather showy brownish-red cone-like buttons, each containing many tiny fruits.
Buttonwood (whose wood is hard and without growth rings) was once an important source of charcoal in South Florida. It is said to be excellent for smoking fish and meat. Silver buttonwood, with its small, silver leaves and contorted trunk, is a favorite subject for bonsai.

Growth Rate – Medium
Salt Tolerance – Extremely High
Drought Tolerance – High
Best planted in exposed area with good air flow to prevent mold on leaves.

Photos clockwise from top  –  (1) Very old Silver Buttonwood in the Gateway Median (East Sunrise Blvd and North Federal Highway),  (2) Trunk of a mature Silver buttonwood, (3) silver buttonwood leaves and (4) Silver buttonwood used as hedge plants and small tree at Sebastian Parking Area, Fort Lauderdale Beach. 

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Environmental Services
Office - (954) 828-7704 Fax - (954) 828-7897

Think before you print!