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Scaevola plumieri Inkberry

Edward F. Gilman

Introduction

Inkberry is a 2- to 3-foot-tall shrub with succulent stems that spread to form dense clumps (Figure 1). Stems root as they touch the ground. The foliage is clustered toward the tips of the branches and is thick, fleshy, and a glossy, medium green color. The flowers are 3/4 to 1 inch in length, five- to six-lobed, and found in small clusters among the foliage. They are barely noticeable. The lobes of the flowers are split vertically and spread out like a fan to suggest a half flower instead of a whole flower. The fruits are black, glossy, smooth, and fairly prominent among the foliage. They are bitter to taste but are harmless if only one is eaten.

Figure 1. Inkberry
Figure 1.  Inkberry

 

General Information

Scientific name: Scaevola plumieri
Pronunciation: see-VOLE-luh PLOO-meer-rye
Common name(s): inkberry
Family: Goodeniaceae
Plant type: ground cover
USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: native to Florida
Uses: border; mass planting; foundation; reclamation plant; small parking lot islands (< 100 square feet in size); medium sized parking lot islands (100-200 square feet in size); large parking lot islands (> 200 square feet in size); ground cover; cascading down a wall
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: 2 to 3 feet
Spread: 3 to 8 feet
Plant habit: spreading
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: spiral
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: spatulate
Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: summer flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: black
Fruit characteristic: showy

Trunk and Branches

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

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: alkaline; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: good
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: sprouts from roots or lower trunk
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: very sensitive to one or more pests or diseases which can affect plant health or aesthetics

Use and Management

Inkberry can be used as a seaside ornamental, specimen, or ground cover. They grow nearly to the high tide mark on the ocean side of the dunes among the sea oats and other highly salt tolerant plants. They are most effective when massed together as a low ground cover or low shrub. They catch sand and help stabilize the dunes.

Inkberry is not harmed by salt spray and is found on sand dunes in southern Florida and the Florida Keys. It is drought tolerant and requires full sun. Plantings inland should be located in a well-drained landscape setting.

Seeds and the sprawling stems that have rooted naturally may be used for propagation.

Pest and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Publication #FPS539

Date: 1/5/2022

    • Program Area: Plant Systems
    Organism ID

    Contacts

    • Diana Hagan
    • Gail Hansen de Chapman