Asiatic Colubrina

Asiatic colubrina, also known as Latherleaf due to chemicals found in its leaves that produce a lather when rubbed in water, was introduced to the Caribbean from Asia. The salt-tolerant, floating seed capsules soon found a haven in South Florida's coastal plant communities. This exotic is spreading rapidly through the Keys.

This sprawling shrub climbs over existing vegetation and can shade out native flora. It can replace native buttonwood, mangrove, and beach communities.

Leaves are dark green and shiny above, paler below, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long, elliptical in shape with serrated margins. Flowers are greenish, 1/16 inch across and produced in clusters from the axil of the leaf. The fruit changes in color from orange to brown as it matures and is triocular, 3-grooved, and 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide.