Weeds of Wednesday: Marlberry “Mimic”

Marylou Rethman (Class of 2009) brought a cutting of what she hoped was native marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides) but suspected that it might not be. Sure enough, it was shoebutton ardisia (Ardisia elliptica), a plant so invasive that it is on Florida’s prohibited plant list.

At a glance shoebutton, ardisia does look like marlberry. After all, it should since it is in the same genus, Aridisia, which means pointed anthers.

The flowers (& hence the fruits) of shoebutton ardisia are held in the leaf axils (angles). Marlberry flowers and fruits are held in a terminal panicles (clusters).

When Marylou said that some of the fruits were “reddish”, I knew for sure that the plant cutting she brought was from shoebutton ardisia. The fruits of marlberry ripen from golden to dark blue black. The fruits of shoebutton aridisia are quite colorful and part of the reason that this easy-to-grow plant once was a darling of the nursery industry …

The new foliage of shoebutton ardisia usually, but not always, is brightly colored, too …

Seedlings often appear to be all green at a glance but look closely at the central stems …

When in doubt, don’t pull it out! Species matter!

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: