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Clusia Rosea (Pitch Apple) is a spreading low-branching tree with a short trunk and rounded crown of dense foliage. Clusia rosea reaches 25 feet in height. Additionally, its simple leaves are opposite, entire, obovate, dark green, and leathery. The thick leaves measure 8 to 12 by 4 to 8 inches and resemble those of the southern magnolia tree.
In addition, the White and Pink flowers borne on the branch tips are 2 to 3 inches wide and very showy. Also, the fleshy, light green fruit is about 3 inches in diameter. When the fruit becomes ripe 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.
Clusia Rosea (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