Pronunciation: mer-see-ANTH-eez FRAY-granz
Common names: Simpson's stopper, twinberry
Habit: This member of the eucalyptus family is an attractive, evergreen, multi- stemmed, hardy tropical. Once known as Eugenia simpsonii. this large shrub or small tree can reach a height of 20-25 feet with a 15-foot spread. Small, deep green leaves contain aromatic oils with the fragrance of nutmeg. They grow densely, when in full sun, on the smooth-barked branches. In shade the foliage becomes less dense and the trunk displays its attractive, smooth, exfoliating bark that has a reddish brown inner bark, and a smooth mottled tan-gray trunk after bark exfoliation. Fragrant, white flowers grow in long panicles periodically throughout the year, then develop into attractive, red berries that are edible. The flowers attract many species of butterflies, and the fruits are appealing to birds, especially mockingbirds.
USDA hardiness zones: 9 through 11
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: native to Florida
Uses: as a standard or specimen; mass planting; screen; attracts butterflies. Small tree; parking lot island; road-way median; hedge, screen; mass planting; butterfly and wildlife attractor.
Culture: Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun; plant grows in the shade. Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; clay. Drought tolerance: high. Soil salt tolerances: good. Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches. Invasive potential: not known to be invasive. Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant. Propagation: Seeds or cuttings.
Twinberry can grow in full sun or deep shade and is most useful where the soils are alkaline. It will tolerate wet soils but is also drought tolerant. It shears well, has a high salt tolerance, and is hardy to about 25°F or lower under an organic program. Its native habitat in Florida is the coastal upland forests with sandy soil containing shells and a neutral to slightly alkaline pH.
Native to the Caribbean, it is rare in Puerto Rico and more common on the other Caribbean islands. The Island of Mayaguana in Southern Bahamas still retains forests of Simpson’s Stopper growing on elevated rocky ridges.
Problems: No pests or diseases are of major concern. Guava rust disease (Puccinia psidii) is an ornamental plant disease which attacks stressed Simpson’s stopper plants. Human hazards: None.
Notes: Seedling form Simpson’s stopper can be selected fro a range of features including reddish new foliate, smaller leaves, better form, and compact shape. The ‘Compacta’ form is a lower growing shrub to 5 feet and can be used in smaller landscape setting or as foundation plants. Synonyms (Previous names): Anamomis fragrans; Eugenia fragrans; E. simpsonii; Myrtus fragrans.