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Publication #FOR 265

Duranta erecta, Golden Dewdrop1

Michael G. Andreu, Melissa H. Friedman, Mary McKenzie, Heather V. Quintana, and Robert J. Northrop2

Family

Verbenaceae, verbena or vervain family.

Genus

is derived from the name of Castore Durantes, an Italian botanist.

Species

The species name, erecta, is a Latin word meaning "upright."

Common Name

golden dewdrop, pigeon berry, sky flower

The common name golden dewdrop comes from its showy, dropping trails of golden fruits.

Description

The origin of this small evergreen tree is subject to debate. Some sources claim it is native to the West Indies and Central America, while others claim it is native to the Florida Keys. It currently can be found in many states within the sun belt of the United States, including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, California, and Hawaii. It grows best in full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade, and can reach heights of up to 18 feet. The simple and oppositely arranged leaves grow from 1 to 3 inches long, are ovate to obovate in shape, and have serrate margins. The leaves are yellow-green, glabrous (or hairless) and thin, and each one possesses a thorn on the bottom side along the rachis (stem). The bark of the golden dewdrop tree is light brown and slightly furrowed. Small, showy, tubular flowers, ranging from purple and white to violet or blue, bloom in the spring and hang in 6-inch racemes. Bright yellow spherical fruits about ½ inch in diameter hang in long, trailing clusters in the summer. Caution: the fruits of golden dewdrop are poisonous to humans.

Figure 1. 

Leaves and flowers of Duranta erecta.


Credit:

PseudoDude, CC BY-SA 2.0


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 2. 

Fruits of Duranta erecta.


Credit:

Ettore Balocchi, CC BY 2.0


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Allergen

Golden dewdrop is known to be slightly allergenic.

Applications

Horticultural

Landscapers and horticulturalists use golden dewdrop trees for background and screening purposes. It creates a nice private barrier, and the bright lavender flowers and attractive golden fruit add a splash of color to landscapes. It is commonly seen in yards as a shrub and is used in urban landscapes in parts of southern Florida.

Wildlife

Butterflies enjoy nectar from the flowers, and although the fruit is poisonous to humans, birds are able to use the berries as a food source.

References

Borror, D. J. 1988. Dictionary of root words and combining forms (1st ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.

Dehgan, B. 1998. Landscape plants for subtropical climates. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Ogren, T. L. 2000. Allergy-free gardening: The revolutionary guide to healthy landscaping. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Rushing, F. 2005. Tough plants for Florida gardens: Low care, no care, tried and true winners. Franklin, TN: Cool Springs Press.

Watkins, J. V., T. J. Sheehan, and R. J. Black. 2005. Florida landscape plants: Native and exotic (Second Revised ed.). Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. (n.d.). PLANTS database. Retrieved from http://plants.usda.gov/index.html

Floridata.com. 2003. Duranta erecta, Retrieved from http://www.floridata.com/ref/D/dura_ere.cfm

Footnotes

1.

This document is FOR 265, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date June 2010. Reviewed April 2013. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Michael G. Andreu, associate professor of forest systems, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Melissa H. Friedman, former biological scientist, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, IFAS, University of Florida, Plant City Center; Mary McKenzie, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Heather V. Quintana, former research assistant, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; and Robert J. Northrop, Extension forester, Hillsborough County Extension


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.