Weeds of Wednesday: Latexplant

This vine was dangling from a tree at Treasure Hammock Ranch when we visited on 3/3/2019 and likely would have gone unnoticed were it not for its signifcant fruits …

From the outside the fruit resembles a good-sized avocado, but the milky latex belies that this plant is a member of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, known for its milky sap and toxicity.

Latexplant (Araujia odorata) is a common name for this plant, which is thought to have been introduced as an ornamental plant in 1957.  It also commonly is called strangler vine because it has been known to overtake citrus trees in central Florida.  Its current distribution, according to the USF Plant Atlas, is shown below.

This plant is not found at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA), but it is present at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and Disney Wabasso.  Click here to see photos of flowers and from these venues.

Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory Associate Professor Dr. Lary Reeves who spotted the striking fruit at Treasure Hammock split it open …

With so many tiny seeds attached to silken parachutes, it is easy to understand how winds would spread this plant …

Given the ability of this plant to spread and engulf other vegetation, this plant is best removed, even if is a larval host plant for queen (Danaus gillippus) and soldier (Danaus resumes) butterflies.