Coccoloba uvifera - Sea Grape

The Coccoloba uvifera or Sea Grape was collected in Florida in 1992. It was originally a landscape tree that was shortened to about 20 inches in height. When collected all branches and leaves were removed to a bare trunk. The tree has been growing indoors under lights or in a greenhouse since collection.

This plant has had no insect problems. It grows somewhat slowly, and most years it has just one growth spurt, and some years a second smaller growth spurt. Each year the new growth is allowed to harden off and then new growth is reduced back to several leaves. This has not resulted in much ramification, so in the last year the whole tree has been defoliated to try to induce more ramification. Time will tell whether this approach will succeed.

Sea Grape leaves are naturally very large, up to 8 inches in diameter, making the process of creating a believable bonsai very difficult. Still, I really admire its exfoliating multi-colored bark and its tropical allure.

Deadwood areas at the base of the trunk need detailed carving to refine the rough cuts. The heart-wood is dark red and is very hard and rot resistant. Even wood touching the wet soil takes some years to get soft and punky. Wood that does not touch the soil seems to remain sound for many years.

The tree is 27 inches tall with a trunk caliper of nine inches.

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