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Suriana maritima Bay Cedar

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


The bay cedar is endemic to south Florida, the Caribbean, Central America, and the Bahamas. It was commonly found growing in thickets, on sand dunes and rocky shores, often just back of the high tide line, but is now on the endangered plants list. This 5- to 20-foot-tall plant has a sturdy, branched trunk that has beautiful, dark brown, rough, flaky bark; the wood of this tree is very hard and heavy. Branches arch gracefully and hold the evergreen leaves on short, upturned twigs. The tiny, gray-green leaves are fleshy and minutely downy; the new leaves and twigs are particularly downy. Yellow, cup-shaped flowers may occur singly or in clusters that are inconspicuously set among the leaves. These small flowers occur consistently throughout the year. The seeds of the bay cedar are held in a small, brown, five-pointed calyx.

Full Form - Suriana maritima: bay cedar.
Figure 1. Full Form—Suriana maritima: Bay cedar.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Full Form - Suriana maritima: bay cedar.
Figure 2. Flower—Suriana maritima: Bay cedar.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Suriana maritima

Pronunciation: ser-ree-AY-nuh muh-RIT-tim-muh

Common name(s): bay cedar

Family: Surianaceae

Plant type: shrub

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 3)

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year-round

Origin: native to Florida

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: container or above-ground planter; superior hedge; mass planting; recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway; border; attracts butterflies

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 3. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 5 to 20 feet

Spread: 5 to 8 feet

Plant habit: oval

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: fine


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 color: yellow

Flower characteristic: flowers periodically throughout the year


Fruit shape: round

Fruit length: less than 0.5 inch

Fruit cover: dry or hard

Fruit color: brown

Fruit characteristic: attracts birds

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; showy

Current year stem/twig color: brown

Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in full sun

Soil tolerances: acidic; alkaline; sand; loam

Drought tolerance: high

Soil salt tolerances: good

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: no special winter interest

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Bay cedar is not commonly used in the landscape but could function as a specimen or border plant in beach locations. It has been used as a hedge because it responds well to clipping. Left to grow on its own, bay cedar can be trained into a small tree for a specimen planting in the landscape or in a container. Planted in a row on 5- to 6-foot centers, it functions as a screen.

Bay cedar has a high tolerance for salt and wind and is ideal for coastal landscapes. It will grow well in well-drained, sandy soils without irrigation once established and needs to be placed in a mostly sunny location.

Bay cedar is currently propagated by seed.

Pest and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Publication #FPS-565

Release Date:January 23, 2024

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is FPS-565, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman
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