Shrubs and Small Trees

If you have a yard in South Florida then you should plant at least one if not all the different species of stoppers. The benefits of planting stoppers are many.  They can be used as accent plants, in hedges or barrier plantings, or as understory plants. They do not have any major disease or pest problems. They are all members of the Myrtaceae (Eucalptus family), all have small white flowers, and all are fragrant in some way (some smelling better than others).  I have been growing stoppers for over 10 years and have fallen for them.  They are easy to grow, require very little maintenance, look great year round and, best of all, they attract all kinds of birds, butterflies and other wildlife to my garden. They are plants I try to incorporate into my landscape designs.  Over the years when I have revisited the landscape jobs I planted, the stoppers are always doing great even at sites that have not been well maintained.  Below is some information on some of my favorite stoppers. [Reference: Natives For Your Neighborhood. The Institute for Regional Conservation. http://www.regionalconservation.org]

Click on the images to enlarge.

Myrcianthes fragrans (Simpson’s Stopper, Twinberry)Myrcianthes fragrans (Simpson’s Stopper, Twinberry)Myrcianthes fragrans (Simpson’s Stopper, Twinberry). The foliage of Simpson’s stopper is aromatic with a nutmeg fragrance. The flowers are also fragrant and can attract butterflies, while the fruit is an excellent attractor of many species of birds, especially mockingbirds (our state bird). The fruit ripens to a beautiful orange to red color, giving some color to the landscape.  The fruit and bark are rumored to treat diarrhea when made into a tea. (I have had no personal experience, but would be curious if anyone else has or is willing to try it out on themselves. Get back to me if you do, so we all find out if this is fact or fiction!)  Simpson’s stopper is cold hardy and will on average get to 20′ tall.  It can be single trunk but is beautiful trimmed up as a multi-stemmed specimen, showing its peeling bark.  It is attractive all year long so plant in a focal area.  For me, this is a “must have,” so try to find space for at least one.


Eugenia confusa (Redberry Stopper)Eugenia confusa (Redberry Stopper) Eugenia confusa (Redberry Stopper). This tree is rare in its natural habitats and is listed as Endangered by the State of Florida. It can grow to 20′, but is extremely slow growing.  It can be used in constricted areas because of its narrow growth habit.  It is native to hardwood and coastal hammocks.  (I have 3 and 7-gallon available in the nursery.)


Eugenia rhomea (Red Stopper) Eugenia rhomea (Red Stopper)Eugenia rhomea (Red Stopper). Red stopper is also listed as Endangered by the State of Florida.  It is slow growing and typically reaching 8′ to 15′.   The new foliage is pale red when it first appears and is quite stunning.  The leaves have tiny black dots on the underside. Red stopper grows a bit wider than redberry or Spanish stopper but does not grow as tall.


Eugenia foetida (Spanish Stopper) Eugenia foetida (Spanish Stopper)Eugenia foetida (Spanish Stopper). Spanish stopper grows to 15′-20′ on average.  It can be used as a good visual barrier, but it does not grow very dense. It has the tendency to be narrow, so it is also a good choice for constricted areas.  It is a common plant in hardwood hammocks.  Spanish stopper and Simpson’s stopper are available in the nurseries in more sizes than the other stoppers.


Hamelia patens (Firebush) Hamelia patens (Firebush)Hamelia patens (Firebush). Firebush grows fast to about 10-20′ on average. It has dark brown bark and a rounded crown with light and dark green leaves. The tubular flowers are red/orange and attract a variety of butterflies and hummingbirds.


Acacia choriophylla (Cinnecord) Acacia choriophylla (Cinnecord)Acacia choriophylla (Cinnecord). Cinnecord is a shrub or small tree with showy yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.


Ardisia escallonioides (Marlberry) Ardisia escallonioides (Marlberry)Ardisia escallonioides (Marlberry). Averages 8-15′ in height and grows taller than broad. Leaves are shiny and darker above; the bark and trunk are pale gray and slender. The white/pink flowers are fragrant and the 1/4” fruit is dark purple or black when mature. It can be used as an accent shrub and will grow well in light shade or full sun.