Wild Florida Photo - Amyris elemifera

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Amyris elemifera

SEA TORCHWOOD

COMMON TORCHWOOD

Florida native

 

An occasional shrub or small tree of hammocks along the east coast from Flagler County into the Florida Keys. The range extends through the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Amyris elemifera is also found in Mexico and Belize.
Growing up to 5m (~16-1/2 ft.) tall sea torchwood is evergreen with light brown bark. The drooping leaves are opposite and compound with three to five leaflets. Leaflets are petiolate, ovate-lanceolate, 2.5 - 7.5cm (1-3 in.) long with glandular dots on the top surface and pointed tips. The tiny white flowers are in branching clusters and the fruit is a purple to black ovoid drupe 0.5 - 1cm (less than 1/2 in.) long with glandular dots.
Torchwood is one of the primary larval host plants for the Bahamian and Schaus Swallowtail butterflies.
The species name is derived from the term elemi, referring to a fragrant resin used in essential oils and varnishes. The Mexican variety of elemi is made from torchwood, other parts of the world use different trees to make their elemi.

 
Amyris elemifera is a member of the Rutaceae - Citrus family.