Wild-coffee is a member of the madder family (Rubiaceae), this is the same family to which coffee, ixoras, and gardenias belong. It is a common understory shrub in tropical to warm-temperate forests in northern and peninsular Florida from Duval County south to the Florida Keys. Wild-coffee is extremely popular as a landscape plant due to its beautiful, glossy, dark green leaves with deeply impressed veins. In addition, it is easily grown, adapts well to a variety of light and soil conditions, and it is extremely drought tolerant once established, especially if growing in the shade or in a partly shaded site. The tiny creamy-white flowers are insignificant but they are lightly scented and attract a diverse array of wildlife including native bees and both large and small butterflies. The flowers are followed by conspicuous red berries that are eaten by birds and mammals. From time to time, individuals with leaves variegated with white markings are encountered, either in the wild or among cultivated plants; however, thus far, such variegated-leaved clones have not been established in general cultivation.
Image and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio