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Ironwood: a good, solid tree for South Florida

Black ironwood, a native tree of South Florida and the Caribbean, has a tiny notch at the end of each leaf.
Black ironwood, a native tree of South Florida and the Caribbean, has a tiny notch at the end of each leaf.

Black ironwood (Krugeodendrum ferrum) is a beautiful and durable native tree that occurs in our coastal hammocks, the West Indies and Central America. The leaves are oval, smooth and have a small notch in the tip. The leaf margins are wavy and supple. Flowers occur in the summer in clusters and produce single-seeded black berries in the fall.

This slow-growing tree, which may have multiple stems, produces the densest wood of any tree in South Florida. It shows much resistance to high winds. Black ironwood should be used more often in South Florida landscapes, showing off dark, glossy green leaves and gray bark as a specimen or in street plantings.

It grows to a height of 15 to 30 feet and likes partial shade to full sun. It also likes well-drained sandy or rocky soils.

As with most other natives, it needs minimal care once established. If you plant at the beginning of the rainy season, you will use less water to help the tree send out roots because nature will join in the effort to keep the root zone moist during the first growing season.

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