Green Buttonwood

Type Ornamental, Specimen Tree, multi-trunked shrub
Common Names Buttonbush, False Mangrove, Button Mangrove
Scientific Name Conocarpus erectus
Cold Hardiness Not cold hardy, Zone 10b-11
Light Needs Full to partial sun
Flower White
Water Needs Highly drought tolerant
Leaves Green
E/D Evergreen
Mature Height Up to 60 ft
Growth Rate Medium

Often seen growing wild on sandy Miami beaches, the green buttonwood tree is also a useful landscape specimen in both urban and suburban environments.

Buttonwood, a relative of the mangrove, is an upright evergreen shrub or tree native to coastal regions throughout the tropics, including Florida. Young plants have scaly, dark brown bark that becomes whorled and ridged in distinctive patterns over time. Exposure to frequent winds can enhance this effect. The twisted, knotty trunks of green buttonwood provide a convenient and hospitable home for orchids and bromeliads. The leaves of the buttonwood are bright green, narrow ovals with pointed tips. Green buttonwood blooms and produces fruit year-round. Flowers are small and without petals. They bloom in clusters and are pale green to yellowish white. The rough brown fruits resemble worn leather buttons.

The sturdy green buttonwood is a low-maintenance tree. It grows well in most soils and requires little watering except during periods of prolonged drought. Although it generally prefers drier conditions, the buttonwood will survive occasional flooding. Buttonwood is salt and wind resistant. It thrives in full sun to partial shade but will suffer in fully shaded areas. When cultivated as a tree it requires little or no pruning, leaf drop isn’t a problem and the tree is seldom bothered by pests. Mature buttonwood trees can grow to a height of 20 to 30 feet with a narrow, vase-shaped crown. Along the shore, multi-trunked specimens sometimes exhibit a spreading, flat-topped canopy.

The green buttonwood is particularly useful in coastal areas where it can provide shelter from sea breezes and secure soil and sand dunes against storm surges, but it does equally well in urban and suburban environments. Train buttonwood into a single- or multi-trunked accent tree or use it in rows as a formal or informal hedge or windbreak.