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Sideroxylon tenax

Sideroxylon tenax L.

Tough Bully, Tough Buckthorn

Sapotaceae (Sapodilla Family)

Synonym(s): Bumelia lacuum, Bumelia megacocca, Bumelia tenax

USDA Symbol: SITE2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Tough Bully or Tough Buckthorn is a shrub or tree to 35 ft. with tough, flexible twigs. Narrowly oval leaves have a dense coat of silvery to rusty-brown hairs on the undersides. Tubular, white flowers, in axillary clusters, are followed by drupe-like, black berries.

This very local species was discovered in South Carolina by Alexander Garden (1728-91); he sent a specimen to Linnaeus, who named it in 1767. The common and scientific names both refer to the tough branches.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 35 feet, often shorter.
Fruit: Purplish black.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun


USA: FL , GA , NC , SC
Native Distribution: Coastal Plain from SC to FL
Native Habitat: Sandy pinelands; dunes; maritime woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Description: Sandy soils.


Description: Propagate with treated seed sown into flats or outdoor beds in the fall. Softwood cuttings root easily.
Seed Collection: Gather fruits in fall when filled out, soft, and blue-black. Seeds can be cleaned or air-dryed with the pulp on before storage. Store in refrigerated, sealed containers for up to one year.
Seed Treatment: Scarify in concentrated sulfuric acid for 20 min. followed by stratification for 30-60 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

Web Reference

Webref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Sideroxylon tenax in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Sideroxylon tenax in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Sideroxylon tenax


Record Modified: 2023-05-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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