Picramnia pentandra


Bitterbush is a dioecious shrub that is native to the area around Key Biscayne and the Upper Keys. The height is between six and 12 feet and upright which makes this a good plant to place near a structure or other tight spaces.

Bitterbush is related to the paradise tree and has compound leaves with a small version of the latter’s berries. These ripen in late summer turning from red to black and are still present in February giving bitterbush color for several months.

It needs protection from salt air and water, yet is drought tolerant and able to grow in average soil. The growth rate is 2-3 feet a year, slowing down when 10-12 feet are reached.

Plant in a small cluster near a window or corner of the house. Coonties, wildflowers, Keys bamboo, beach creeper or other low shrubs can be planted near this. This is a nice way to break from the overused foundation hedge. The unusual leaf texture and weeping habit adds interest and the height is easy to control.

Provides larval food for the Bush sulfur or Dina yellow. This butterfly is only found in the Homestead area and Upper Key Largo.