Savia bahamensis Maidenbush1

Edward F. Gilman 2

Introduction

Maidenbush is a small-leaved, compact, native shrub with some resemblance to cocoplum (Fig. 1). This 6- to 10-foot-tall euphorb has pretty, oval green leaves that are folded toward each other along the long stems. When the new growth of this plant emerges it is a bright red color. The fruits and flowers of the maidenbush are not the "stars of the show" but are small and inconspicuous; the foliage is the real attraction. This shrub makes a great specimen plant and is suitable for coastal landscapes.

Figure 1. Maidenbush
Figure 1.  Maidenbush

General Information

Scientific name: Savia bahamensis
Pronunciation: SAY-vee-uh bah-hah-MEN-sis
Common name(s): maidenbush
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: native to Florida
Uses: hedge; specimen; screen
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.

Description

Height: 6 to 10 feet
Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: spatulate
Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: green
Flower characteristic: spring flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: unknown
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; not particularly showy
Current year stem/twig color: reddish
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in full sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Maidenbush will thrive on dry sandy soils in full or partial sun. Maidenbush is a drought-tolerant plant, but it may be damaged by cold weather in areas north of Vero Beach, FL. Native soil is fairly well drained in the coastal upland plant communities. Soil pH in its native habitat is slightly alkaline or neutral.

Pests and Diseases

There are no major problems growing maidenbush.

Footnotes

1. This document is FPS536, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS536

Date: 2015-10-04
Shrubs Fact Sheets

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Contacts

  • Gail Hansen de Chapman