Sea Grape

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This article is about Coccoloba uvifera, commonly called the sea grape. For other things known as sea grapes, see Sea grape.
Coccoloba uvifera
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Coccoloba uvifera.jpg
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Caryophyllales
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Family: Polygonaceae
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Genus: Coccoloba
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Species: C. uvifera
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Binomial name
Coccoloba uvifera
L., 1762
Trinomial name
Type Species

The Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) is a sprawling bush or small tree that is found near sea beaches throughout tropical America and the Caribbean, including southern Florida and Bermuda. It reaches a maximum height of 8 metres, but most specimens are little more than 2 metres tall. It has large, round, leathery leaves (up to 25 cm in diameter) with a primary vein that has a red color extending from the base, and the entire leaf turns red as it ages. The bark is smooth and yellowish. In late summer it bears purplish fruit, about 2 cm in diameter, in large grape-like clusters. The fruit also contains a pit.

The tree is unable to survive frost. However, it is moderately tolerant of shade, and highly tolerant of salt, so it is often planted to stabilise beach edges; it is also planted as an ornamental shrub. The fruit can be used for jam or the fruit can be eaten right off the tree.

Hardiness: USDA zone 9B - 11

Propagation: seeds and cuttings

Culture: partial shade/full sun, drought tolerance


The first botanical names of the plant[1] were assigned in 1696 by Hans Sloane, who called it Prunus maritima racemosa, "maritime grape-cluster Prunus", and Leonard Plukenet, who named it Uvifera littorea, "grape-bearer of the shore", both of which names reflect the European concept of "sea-grape", expressed in a number of languages by the explorers of the times. The natives viewed it as a large mulberry.

The first edition of Linnaeus's Species Plantarum (1753), based on Plukenet, assigned the plant to Polygonum uvifera and noted flores non vidi, "I have not seen the flowers." Subsequently Patrick Browne, The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica (1756) devised Coccoloba, "red-leaf", for it. Relying on Browne, Linnaeus' second edition (1762),[2] changed the classification to Coccolobus uvifera, citing all the other names.

Aged seagrape leaf (actual diameter about 25cm)


  1. Austin, page 225.
  2. Page 523. This edition is downloadable, Google Books, at [1].


  • Bush, Charles S. and Julia F. Morton. 1969. Native Trees and Plants for Florida Landscaping. Bulletin No. 193, Department of Agriculture - State of Florida.
  • Austin, Daniel F. (2004). Florida Ethnobotany. CRC Press. ISBN 0849323320.  Preview available, Google Books.


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