Friday, April 22, 2016

Meet the Cockspur - Pisonia rotundata

The Cockspur - Pisonia rotundata is a deciduous, mostly evergreen tree with leaves that are quickly replaced when the old leaves fall.  It generally grows in small tree or shrub form and can reach heights of 28 feet.  The branches generally grow in low branching form with a dense crown that is rounded or oval.  It is also called Pisonia or Smooth Devils-Claws.

Image Citation: T. Ann Williams -

The bark of the Cockspur is an ash gray in color with obvious scarring.  The twigs are a yellowish green and are stout with dense fine hairs, becoming hairless with age.  The leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, leathery, stiff and oval or broadly elliptical.  The base of the leaves are rounded or broadly wedge shaped with a rounded tip that is often notched.  The upper surface is lustrous or a dull green with yellow veins that are raised and conspicuous.  The flower is uni sexual with male and female appearing on separate plants.  They are greenish white in color, the male are tubular or urn shaped with 10 stamens and the female are cup like and often tinged with red.  They appear in Mid to Late Spring coinciding with leaf expansion.  The fruit is a nutlet that is enclosed in a sticky perianth that is 7-10 mm long.  The fruit appears in the Summer and is quick to ripen.

Image Citation: Gil Nelson, Book-Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida -

The tree is only native to the Hammocks and Scrub restricted areas of the Southernmost portion of North America (Most of Florida and the Florida Keys).  

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