Jamaica dogwood (Piscidia piscipula) is a fast-growing shade tree that is very showy this time of year. Its white-to-pink flowers, while small individually, create clusters that provide a striking splash of color.
The Jamaica dogwood’s flowers are followed by papery, brown seed pods that are winged, lending an interesting look. This tree is deciduous: Prior to blooming, it tends to drop most of its leaves.
Jamaica dogwood is also known as the fish poison or fish fuddle tree because it has been used to stun fish. Though it is illegal today, an extract from the leaves and bark were placed in the water, slowing down the fishing target and making them easier to catch.
This tree is also a larval host plant for the hammock skipper butterfly (Polygonus leo) and the flowers serve as a great nectar source for bees. This hearty, salt-tolerant tree is versatile in the landscape, growing in dry to periodically inundated soil, in full sun or partial shade.