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Woody > Piscidia > Piscidia piscipula > Piscidia piscipula

Piscidia piscipula

Florida Fish Poison Tree, Jamaican Dogwood

Origin:  Native to Florida, Central America, the West Indies including Jamaica and Cuba.
            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


Jamaican Dogwood is a beautiful tree with its butterfly-shaped flowers and an amazing variety of colours. It has tremendous healing properties because of its use in sedative and anti-anxiety medication. Jamaican Dogwood is overall a great plant, very hardy, salt tolerant and extremely beneficial to humans and animals.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Tree (deciduous), Shrub (deciduous)
Piscidia erythrina
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
cool season protection under glass.
RHS Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
30 - 40
Temperature (°F)
80 - 90
15 m
9-14 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
Piscida piscipulal is a fast-growing, deciduous, tropical shade tree.
Piscidia piscipula is very salt and drought tolerant. It prefers well drained sandy, loamy and limestone based soils and is tolerant of a wide range of soil pH's. It does very well in the south Florida humus.
Upright medium tree or shrub.
Ideal habitats are dry, low elevations like the dry, sandy Caribbean. It is also found growing in south Florida in the rich organic soils known better as humus. It grows predominantly in low elevations that have quick draining soils.
Bark/Stem Description
Bark is greyish-brown or yellow on the outside and white or light brown/yellow on the inside. The bark tastes bitter and gives off a very displeasing smell.
Leaf Description
The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, with a pulvinus (a visible swelling) at the base. They are oval-shaped with a greyish/green colour and grow 10 - 25 cm in length with long undulate margins occasionally curled with distinct veins.
Flower Description
Flowers in a variety of colours such as white, pink and lavender. The flower has a papilionaceous shape, measuring about 2 cm in size.
Fruit Description
The fruit is produced in clusters, growing from skinny stocks. The pod-shaped fruit is brownish in colour and approximately 7 - 10 cm long and 2 - 4 cm wide. The pods have a papery texture, and are protected by 4 wings.
Colour Description
The leaves are a dark green colour. The flowers can be pink, white or lavender in colour. The bark is greyish brown or even yellow at times. Fruit is a brownish or yellowish colour.
Jamaican Dogwood can be easily grown from cuttings. The cuttings actually start to grow roots relatively fast, so fast that even fallen leaves that have broken off and land in ideal moist soil conditions start to root.
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
“As early as 1844, Western scientists discovered that Jamaica dogwood had pain-relieving and sweat-promoting properties.” Steven D (1/2/2015) University of Maryland Medical Centre. It has been used as a remedy for treating pain, insomnia, anxiety and fear ever since the Mayan times. However a recent scientific review of Jamaican Dogwood demonstrated that the bark carries anti-inflammatory properties and can even act as a potent sedative. Fishermen in Florida would use the bark as a fish poison, they would fill up a bag with the bark and leaves and beat it under the water to allow the toxins from the plant to fill the waters and kill the fish. This is now an illegal practice in Florida. Its wood is dense and hard and is suitable in furniture construction and bowls.
David Nellis (1994) Seashore Plants of South Florida and the Caribbean A Guide To Knowing And Growing Drought and Salt Tolerant Plants Gil Nelson (2011) The Trees of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide