Chrysobalanus icaco (coco plum)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Chrysobalanus icaco L.
Preferred Common Name
- coco plum
International Common Names
- Spanish: hicaco; icaco (Spain); ticaco
- French: icaquier
Local Common Names
- Germany: Gold-Pflaumenbaum; Ikako-Pflaumenbaum
- Italy: icaco
- CBLIC (Chrysobalanus icaco)
OverviewTop of page
This species is a slow-growing medium-sized creeping or erect coastal shrub of 1–1.5 m or, rarely, a small tree of 2–6 m). It is native to coastal areas of southern Florida and the Bahamas through the Caribbean and is also found along the coasts of Mexico, through Central America and South America. This coastal species commonly grows as single plants in thickets on dunes and rocky headlands. It is commonly harvested in the wild, but is sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit in the tropics, especially in South America. It is also grown as an ornamental. The fruit are green turning brownish purple and then black as they ripen. They are edible fresh and can be made into preserves. It is a potential food crop for the future.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Rosales
- Family: Chrysobalanaceae
- Genus: Chrysobalanus
- Species: Chrysobalanus icaco
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The synonyms of C. icaco are Chrysobalanus pellocarpus G.F.W. Meyer, C. icaco L. var. genuinus Stahlé & Quentin and C. icaco L. var. pillocarpa (G.F.W. Meyer) C. Martius. Chyrysobalanus orbicularis Schum., Chyrysobalanus ellipticus Soland. ex Sabine and Chyrysobalanus atacarensis A. Chev. from Africa were once considered subspecies (Paradis, 1983). All the African references to C. icaco may be one of these species (Janick and Paull, 2008).
DescriptionTop of page
This species is a medium-sized slow-growing creeping or erect coastal shrub (1–1.5 m) or, rarely, a small tree (2–6 m) with multiple smooth to scaly brown or grey stems. The twigs are green and hairless when young and turn reddish brown with raised lenticels at maturity. The branches have two rows of shiny, dark-green, leathery, round or elliptic, alternate leaves 3–10 cm long by 2.5–7 cm broad, on a 3 mm petiole. The undersurfaces are light green. The simple leaves turn upward. The 3–6 cm long pubescent cymes are axillary and terminal and shorter than the leaves. Several small flowers (<1 cm in diameter) occur in each cluster. The four, occasionally five, individual white petals are about 5 mm long and the flower has a solitary carpel. The subglobose to obovoid fruit (1.5–3 cm in diameter) are drupes that resemble plums. The fruit are green turning brownish purple and then black as they ripen (Janick and Paull, 2008).
DistributionTop of page
Coco-plum is native to coastal areas of southern Florida and the Bahamas through the Caribbean. It is also found along the coasts of Mexico, through Central America and South America, to Ecuador and northern Brazil and into the Pacific islands. The range has been extended inland in these areas by disturbance and planting (Little et al., 1974; Janick and Paull, 2008).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
Central America and Caribbean
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
This coastal species commonly grows as single plants in thickets on dunes and rocky headlands up to 500 m. The soils are generally shallow. The species is very tolerant of wind, salt spray and flooding, but is intolerant of shade.
Coco plum flowers and has fruit nearly throughout the year. Bees may be the pollinator as the flowers are a good source of honey. Seed dispersion is presumed to be by gravity, water, birds, bats, domestic animals and humans (Janick and Paull, 2008).
Invasive Species ThreatsTop of page
ReferencesTop of page
Burton FJ, 2008. Threatened Plants of the Cayman Islands: the Red List. Richmond, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Howard RA, 1988. 4. Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA: Arnold Arboretum.673 pp.
Janick, J., Paull, R. E., 2008. The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts, [ed. by Janick, J., Paull, R. E.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI.xviii + 954 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20113366221 doi:10.1079/9780851996387.0000
Little, E. L., Jr., Woodbury, R. O., Wadsworth, F. H., 1974. Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Second volume. In: Agriculture Handbook, US Department of Agriculture , (No. 449) . xiv + 1024 pp.
Lorenzi H, 2002. Brazilian trees, 2(4) , Brazil: Instituto Plantarum De Estudos Da Flora.
Paradis, G., 1983. Concerning the division of the genus Chrysobalanus into species and subspecies in West Africa (Chrysobalanaceae). (À propos de la division du genre Chrysobalanus en espèces et sous-espèces pour l'Afrique de l'Ouest (Chrysobalanacées)). Bulletin de l'Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, A (Sciences Naturelles), 45(3-4), 246-254.
Vargas-Simón, G., Arellano-Ostoa, G., García-Villanueva, E., 1997. Propagation of icaco (Chrysobalanus icaco L.) by leafy cuttings and the anatomy of rooting. (Propagación por estacas con hojas de icaco (Chrysobalanus icaco L.) y anatomía del enraizamiento). In: Proceedings of the Interamerican Society for Tropical Horticulture [XXXXIII Annual Meeting, Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1-4 September, 1997], 41. 264-269.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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