This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Pitch Apple is a spreading low-branching tree with a short trunk and rounded crown of dense foliage, reaching 25 feet in height. Additionally, leaves are opposite, simple, entire obovate, dark green, leathery, thick, 8-12 x 4-8 inches and resemble those of the southern magnolia tree.
Besides, flowers borne on the branch tips are white and pink, 2-3 inches wide and very showy. Also, fruits are fleshy, light green when immature, about 3 inches in diameter; when the fruit ripes the capsule turns black, splits open and reveals bright red seeds surrounded by black resinous pulp. This pulp was formerly used as pitch to caulk boat seams, which gave the tree its common name.
The pitch apple fruit resembles mangosteen, to which it is related. Both the seeds and fruit are poisonous to humans, but birds eat the seeds. Propagation is by seeds or cuttings. No pests are normally seen on the plant.
Pitch apple is a rugged tree, tolerant of various soil types but grows faster in moist soils. As a tree or shrub, this plant is attractive for many landscape uses, in home gardens, parks, commercial plantings, and as a specimen tree in a large planter or espaliered. As a shrub it makes an interesting gnarly coastal/seaside screening, it is ideal for a xerophytic garden and one of the choice native plants for the south florida coast.
Other names: Pitch Apple