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The Bucida buceras (Shady Lady) tree is an evergreen tree that grows up to 50 feet (15.24 m) tall. When young, Shady Lady has a pyramidal crown that becomes dense, full and rounded. Initially, Shady Lady has smooth gray-brown bark. The bark becomes irregular and rough as the tree ages. Furthermore, it has strong branches, bearing some spines. The simple, leathery, green leaves are entire and alternate. The leaves measure 4 by 1 inches (2.54 cm) and are tufted at branch ends.
The Shady Lady’s flowers are borne on long slender spikes, about 3 inches (7.62 cm) long. Its blooms are creamy to yellowish, urn-shaped, and about .25 inches wide. The flowers are fragrant and attractive to bees. Although, the flowers are not showy. The oval shaped reddish brown fruits (black when ripe) are borne in clusters, about .5 inch in diameter.
Evidence is inconclusive concerning Shady Lady as a Florida native tree. The tree is invasive which may contribute to the question of whether or not it is a Florida native or naturalized.
The tree responds best to well-drained soils, is frost sensitive, and has no serious pest or disease problems. Also, despite the common name black olive, the fruits are not edible, although birds eat them. You can propagate Bucida buceras (Shady Lady) by seed or layering.
In landscaping, shady lady is a good plant for reclamation. Place Shady Lady along streets without sidewalks or as a specimen or lawn tree. It is also an effective hedge plant. Litter from the tree contains tannin which can stain sidewalks etc.
Other names: Black Olive tree