Conocarpus erectus
Common Name: Buttonwood


Habit: Conocarpus erectus grows as a small shrub to large tree up to 20 meters in height. The leaves are arranged alternately, oval and up to ten cm long and can be covered with either a gray pubescence or be completely glabrous. The petioles have two glands at the leaf base.

The flowers occur in heads that are arranged in a racemous fashion. The calyx has five partially fused sepals. The corolla is absent and there are five stamens. The floral parts are all pubescent. The fruit is a drupe producing a flat winged seed.

Habitat: Conocarpus erectus occurs near saline environments along shorelines and interior ponds but typically only in locations that have occasional flooding. They can also grow in upland areas when planted.

Distribution in Bahamas/Globally: Conocarpus erectus occurs throughout the islands of the Bahamas, Florida, the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as Africa.

Cultural usage/Economic value: Conocarpus erectus is widely used in the horticultural trade because of the silvery appearance of its leaves. The wood has been used for charcoal production because of how dense it is as well as in boat construction because of its durability in saline environments. It is also used as a fuel source for smoking fish and barbequing because of its unique flavor. It has been used medicinally to treat sores and cuts as well as to cause “cascading” (vomiting).