Sea Grape - Coccoloba uvifera - The unusual texture of sea grape, with its big rounded leaves on upright branches, makes it an interesting and handsome large shrub for a South Florida landscape. The leathery leaves grow 8 to 10 inches in diameter, with a hint of red. They have red veining, new growth has a bronzy-red tint, and some leaves will turn completely red in winter before they fall off. In late summer female shrubs produce clusters of fruit that resemble grapes (hence the plant's name) that start out green and ripen to purple. When ripe, the fruit is very sweet, providing tasty treats for people, birds and squirrels. You can make a delicious jelly or wine from them as well. 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.
Sea Grape Trimming
What are sea grapes and how do I know if I have
Sea Grape, Coccoloba uvifera is a remarkable native, salt-
tolerant species of plant found along many of Florida’s beaches.
Plants may appear as low spreading bushes or tall continuous
hedges along the sand dunes. This plant can be identified by its
thick circular leaves 8” to 10” in diameter and its grape-like
clusters of fruit. This fruit is consumed by a number of native
birds and mammals, while the protective canopy provides habitat
for animals including songbirds, lizards, gopher tortoise and beach
In addition to providing habitat, sea grape helps to stabilize
sand dunes and to protect upland structures from storm-induced
erosion. In fact, this plant has been deemed important enough to
protect under Florida Statute.
Does Florida really have sea turtles?
Yes. In fact, with its miles of warm sandy beaches, Florida is
the single most important state for sea turtle nesting. Nesting
season occurs from May 1st to October 31st throughout most of
the state. From Brevard County to Broward County along the
Atlantic coast, the nesting season extends from March 1st through
Sea turtles are large air-breathing reptiles with paddle-shaped
foreflippers and a number of adaptations that make them perfectly
suited for a life at sea. These amazing animals once roamed the
world’s oceans in the millions with a suprising diversity of species.
Today, only seven species remain worldwide. Five of these, the
leatherback, green, loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill, can be
found in Florida’s coastal waters. The first three regularly nest on
Florida beaches. Sadly, all five species are listed as threatened or
It has only been in the last few centuries that demand for sea
turtle meat, eggs, shell, leather and oil drastically reduced their
numbers. Additional declines have continued from drowning in
shrimp trawls, captures on long-lines, pollution and non-
degradable debris in the ocean. One of the most devastating