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Sea Grapes

sea grape fruit ripe, Gasparilla, 9 Oct 06 (4).JPG

Seagrape is a small evergreen tree with very big round leaves – leaves that are thick and that are reddish brown with red veins as they begin to grow, then mature as green leaves with red veins. These trees are native to the Caribbean areas and shores bordering the Caribbean – but are now planted in yards throughout warmer regions. These are also trees of the sun; they don’t do well in the shade. Ivory white flowers bloom in spring and by August have produced nearly inch diameter fruits that were green at first, but gradually turn an off shade of purple. The name of the tree comes from the fruits that grow in a grape-like cluster from branch trips. The fruit is edible when purple and picked from a tree. Each has a single large seed inside. Seagrape jelly is well worth a try. Seagrape is widely planted near seashores to help reduce erosion and, as a result of its usefulness, is protected by Florida law. Seagrape trees also help sea turtles by blocking lights that disorient hatchlings on their way to the sea.