White flowers festoon the white indigo berry (Randia acueleata) bushes recently planted at the Audubon House at the front of the building and along the northern edge of the parking lot. These five-petaled flowers are less than dime-sized and are nestled in the 1/2 to 2″ leaves of this very variable plant. Some plants, but not all, are thorny, as suggested by the species name aculeata, and its leaves vary considerably in shape.
The white fruits – with indigo spots when fully ripe – are quite distinctive. Inside the fruit is an indigo pulp (that will stain your hands) and lots of tiny flat seeds. Birds and other wildlife consume and disperse the seeds. It is a larval host plant for tantalus sphinx (Aellopus tantalus) moths.
Often, this plant is found growing on mosquito control dikes under bird ‘perches’ as shown below at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.
Note the distinctive branching pattern of this plant which can assist you with field ID.
Tough and durable, this plant thrives in the difficult conditions, including in maritime hammocks (in back of beach dunes) and on mosquito control dikes. With its glossy leaves, distinctive branching pattern, thick growth in full sun, and drought-tolerance, white indigo berry deserves inclusion in more landscapes.
Categories: Wildlife plant