Governor's Plum

by Gene Joyner, Extension Agent I
IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service

The Governor's Plum Flacourtia indica is a large shrub or small tree native to tropical Africa and Asia. Plants are very attractive, with deep green glossy leathery leaves, and many varieties have large sharp spines. Plants grow rapidly, often five to seven feet a year, and produce during the late summer large quantities of fruits about one inch in diameter which are purplish-red or blackish at maturity. Fruit pulp is a deep yellowish-orange with anywhere from eight to ten small flattened seeds.

Trees are used often for hedges because spiny types provide good security or can be trained into a small tree. Generally, flowers are produced during the late spring or early summer and the fruit mature a month or two later. Trees prefer full sun for best growth but will tolerate light shading. The governor's plum is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, and also will tolerate some light salt spray.

Plants generally need pruning at least once or twice a year to keep from becoming too overgrown. Propagation of this plant is by seeds, cuttings, air layering, or by occasional suckers. The fruits cannot be eaten until fully ripe. Otherwise, they are highly astringent. Fruits make excellent fresh eating, though, when mature, or can be used for a high-quality jelly or jam.

When grown from seed, many varieties tend to be one sex, so you may not have a high percentage of female plants. For this reason, most nurseries propagate this plant by cuttings or air layering from female or large-bearing trees.

When grown as a hedge, it's good to have several male plants in the hedge to provide pollination and increase fruit production. Single trees isolated from other governor's plum bear fruit. These female trees will bear larger quantities of fruit if a male tree is in the same landscape or close by.

Trees have fair cold hardiness and will take down to about 26°F. before suffering severe damage. New growth on most varieties of governor's plum is a wine or reddish color that is very attractive and adds to the beauty of the tree. Trees are usually available from local sources; however, many people like to propagate their own from trees that have fruit of high quality.


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