Wild Florida Photo - Geobalanus oblongifolius

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Geobalanus oblongifolius

GOPHER APPLE

Synonym: Licania michauxii

Florida native

 

A low growing shrub usually less than 30cm (~1 foot) tall found mostly in the sandhills throughout most of Florida, but also in pine flatwoods, scrub and scrubby flatwoods. The range extends through the southeastern coastal states from Louisiana to South Carolina.
The terminal panicles of small five-petaled white flowers appear in spring and summer. Leaves are alternate, oblong and leathery. The edible, though nearly tasteless fruit is a favorite food of the gopher tortoise.
Gopher apple has recently been moved from the Licania genus to Geobalanus based on genetic research indicating this species has separate ancestors than true Licania. An observable difference in the genera is that Geobalanus have petals and in Licania the petals are absent.

 
Geobalanus oblongifolius is a member of the Chrysobalanaceae - Cocoa-plum family.