Pithecellobium keyense

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Florida Keys Blackbead

Fabaceae (Leguminosae)

Plant Specifics

Size:to 8 ft
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:White,orange,pink
Fruit Color:Brown - red and black arils
Phenology:Evergreen. Blooms winter-spring. Fruits mature in summer.
Noted for:Showy flowers


Recommended Uses:Screen or hedge plant. Informal foundation shrub. Blooms profusely in late fall. Fruits are contorted and split open to reveal red seeds.
Availability:Native nurseries, FNPS plant sales
Light: Full Sun,  Part Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Not wet but not extremely dry ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods)
Moisture Tolerance: Not wet but not extremely dry ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Tolerant of occasional/brief inundation such as can occur in storm surges.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Moderate. Tolerant of salty wind and may get some salt spray. Exposure to salt spray would be uncommon (major storms).
Soil or other substrate:Lime rock, Sand
Soil pH:Calcareous (high pH)



Birds eat the fruits and the red&black arils.


  • Larval host  for cassius blue (Leptotes cassius theonus), large orange sulphur (Phoebis agarithe), and Miami blue (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri) butterflies. 
  • Nectar plant for cassius blue, Florida duskywing (Ephyriades brunneus), Florida white (Appias drusilla), giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), great southern white (Ascia monuste), hammock skipper (Polygonus leo), large orange sulphur, mangrove skipper (Phocides pigmalion), Miami blue, Palatka skipper (Euphyes pilatka), southern broken-dash (Wallengrenia otho), three-spotted skipper (Cymaenes tripunctus), twin-spot skipper (Oligorio maculata) and other butterflies.  (IRC)

Native Habitats:Tropical/coastal hammock edges, dunes, fields. Dry sites.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
10A 10B 11 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures


General Comments:Listed as Threatened by the State of Florida.  Please acqure from reputable sources.