Shoebutton: Ardisia elliptica
can be distinguished by its 1) mauve-tinged flowers, 2)
reddish-pink new foliage, and 3) flower and fruit clusters hanging
from leaf axils along the branches, rather than at the ends of the
Look at first
- tall shrub, small tree
- new foliage at stem tips reddish-pink
- black berries hanging in clusters at leaf axils
Shoebutton may be easily confused with the desirable native
marble-berry (Ardisia escallonioides). They grow in similar
habitats and have similar large evergreen leaves, and both produce
black fruits. However, the native species has white flower
clusters, and they occur only at the stem tips (see other
|Leaves: evergreen, alternate on stem; somewhat large, to 8 in.
long, thick, waxy, (leathery), somewhat folded; oblongobovate or
elliptical-oblong, margins entire (smooth); new leaves at stem tips
||Stems: woody, smooth, gray
||Flowers: ymes (clusters) of mauve colored flowers, drooping on
stalks, with clusters arising from leaf axils (where leaf meets the
stem); flowers starshaped, 2 inches wide, with five petals
||Fruit: fleshy, shiny black to dark purple drupes, relatively
The invasive nonnative shoebutton has escaped from cultivation
and is spreading in the hammocks and wetlands of southern Florida,
forming dense patches that crowd out native plants. Much of Tree
Tops Park in Ft. Lauderdale is a virtual monospecific stand of
large, tall shoebutton bushes.
Native to Asia, naturalized in Hawaii and the Caribbean islands
as well as in Florida.
Shoebutton produces flowers and fruits year round. Seed
dispersment aided by bird consumption of these fruits and the
berries are edible.
Shoebutton populations are altering and degrading native plant
communities. There are numerous non-invasive plant alternatives
available for plant cultivation in Florida.
Image Credit: Sandra Murphy-Pak, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida.