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Ironwood Sideroxylon tenax

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Bumelia tenax
Phonetic Spelling
sid-der-ox-ZY-lon TEN-aks
Description

Tough bully is an evergreen or deciduous shrub or tree in the Sapotaceae family found from the southernmost part of NC south to FL. in the coastal plains. The tree will grow up to 30 feet tall and is evergreen in warm winter areas and deciduous further north. In spring clusters of tiny white fragrant flowers occur and are followed by berries that mature to purplish black that are attractive to birds and deer. The branches have thorns and the stems have a milky sap when broken.

It prefers moist to dry, well-drained sandy soil with a humusy top layer in full sun. It has some tolerance for salty air but not salt spray. This plant can be used in the native, edible or naturalized garden.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No significant problems

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#fragrant flowers#white flowers#native tree#small mammals#NC native#long lifespan#edible fruits#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#naturalized area#deciduous tree#bird friendly#woodland garden#bees
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#fragrant flowers#white flowers#native tree#small mammals#NC native#long lifespan#edible fruits#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#naturalized area#deciduous tree#bird friendly#woodland garden#bees
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sideroxylon
    Species:
    tenax
    Family:
    Sapotaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern U.S.A., NC to FL
    Distribution:
    FL, GA, SC, NC
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and wasps drink the nectar. Birds and mammals eat the berries
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Raw fruits have a sweet flavor.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 12 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Appendage:
    Thorns
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Oval green berries mature to purplish black
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Tiny white flowers in clusters of up to 40 flowers on short hairy stems
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Shiny green leaves vary as to the area it grow in, and are up to 2.8 inches long. Undersides covered with silky silver or reddish-brown hairs. The base is cuneate to attenuate, margins entire, apex rounded to obtuse or retuse
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Bark Description:
    Bark brown, furrowed and narrow-ridged. The inner bark reddish-brown
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Brown stems are armed with thorns and exude a milky sap when broken.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns