The Tropical Green Thumb

The Sea Grape

coccilba unifera

sea grapes
This shrub or tree is native to the Caribbean, and grows up to 50 feet tall. A Sea Grape tree is a "must" in costal gardens making a very effective wind block. It also has a high tolerance to salt and sun. As a tree it can be used for shade, and as a shrub it stabilizes the beach preventing erosion. The dark purple fruits ripen in the summer. They are quite similar to table grapes and can be eaten right off the tree, although when chilled they are much better. Some people even like to make wine out of them.

Sea Grapes are easy to maintain. They need to be watered only in the dry periods and fertilized only twice yearly. Using cuttings or seeds best propagates the Sea Grape.

There are also medicinal properties of the Sea Grape. If a stingray stings you, a poultice made with boiled Sea Grape leaves will draw the ray venom out. It is also said that the boiled bark makes a solution to treat gum disease.


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