swamp privet
Forestiera acuminata (Michx.) Poir.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: eastern swamp privet
  • LEAVES: opposite, simple, deciduous; obovate to rhombic (ovate-lanceolate), tapering both ends; acuminate apices; glabrous; to 3” long, 1” wide; margins often indistinctly serrate or crenate from middle to tip; petiole 1” long
  • FLOWER: plants dioecious; staminate flowers in sessile lateral fascicles, pistillate flowers in short panicles, both from the axils of leaf scares; coralla absent in both; staminate flowers yellowish; flowering in March before leaves emerge
  • FRUIT: brownish to reddish-purple ellipsoidal drupe ca. 0.5” long by 0.3” wide ripening in May
  • TWIGS: slender, light brown, glabrous, warty; lenticels round and white; buds globose; leaf scars have U-shaped bundle scar
  • BARK: dark brown, thin; slightly ridged and flaky when older
  • FORM: multi-stemmed large shrub to ca. 30’ tall, rarely the form and stature of a tree; stems typically arching/leaning
  • HABITAT: river bottom floodplains, swamp margins, floodplain lakes, edges of rivers and stream banks
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Obligate Wetland (OBL): Almost always occurs in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: southeast coastal plain; Mississippi River valley to Illinois; centered on Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley [MAP] [Map Legend]
  • USES:ornamental; erosion control along waterways
  • WILDLIFE: valuable cover; browsed by whitetail deer, but not preferred; fruits are consumed by passerine birds and waterfowl
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. multi-stemmed shrub to small tree on a very wet site that is usually subject to prolonged flooding; distal portion of stems arching/leaning
    2. opposite, ovate-lanceolate leaves with acuminate apices, margins serrate-crenate in upper half
    3. flowers in yellowish clusters appearing prior to leaf-out, thus shrubs conspicuous at a distance when flowering
    4. purple to brown ellipsoidal drupe maturing in May