Weeds of Wednesday: Coralberry

On our visit to Osprey Acres Stormwater Park and Nature Preserve on 4/10/2022, the coralberry (Ardisia crenata) was full of fruit …

Its coral-red fruits are eaten and spread by birds. Birds easily could transport ready-to-go seeds to the nearby Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area and the Indian River Lagoon Greenway, where volunteers and professionals have worked hard to remove this pernicious plant.

Coralberry prefers the shady and fertile conditions of hammocks. At Osprey Acres, this invasive plant is found only in the hammock area but not in the extensive sunny areas created when water cleansing wetlands were created. Native to SE Asia, China, and Koren, this invasive plant, under the right conditions, will crowd out native plants and form a monoculture.

With it showy fruits, dark glossy leaves, and ability to fruit and flower in shady conditions, coralberry initially was brought to the U.S. as an ornamental plan in 1825. In 1896, it was first sold in Florida and by the 1960/’s was found to be invading natural areas. In 2014, coralberry was added to the Florida Noxious Weed List and hence its propagation and sale were prohibited.

As it grows, coralberry tends to lose its lower leaves …

Coralberry has a bevy of common names including coral ardisia, Christmas berry, hen’s eyes, scratch throat, Australian holly (Go figure! since it’s not from Australia), and spiceberry. Whatever you call it, this plant should be removed ASAP. Be aware that this plant has an extensive underground root system where it stores nutrients. After cutting, it will re-sprout swiftly. Herbicide applications or repeated, vigilant re-cutting will be necessary to vanquish this invader.

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