Germinating Method(s) for: 'Sea Grape' - Coccoloba

BronxFigsNovember 3, 2011

Found a supply of Coccoloba uvifera seeds (SEA GRAPE), and I need some information on how to store these seeds for a few months, and/or how to sow these seeds. I understand that this seed loses viability quickly, and doesn't store well. True, or, not?

I found sowing instructions for these seeds on a few web-sites....all, basically saying to soak cleaned seeds overnight, then sow in sterile medium, and keep warm until germination. Is that about it?

If anyone out there in the "tropical-world" can add anything to these simple instructions, please do. This Yankee can use some Florida savvy about SEA GRAPE seeds and plants.

Thanks for the help and any suggestions.

Frank from Da-Bronx

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Hi Frank,

I don't know of or ever heard of anyone growing them at home, though the State of Florida plants them around highway cloverleaf patterns, and there are lots by the beaches on the east coast but they grow wild without any maintenance.

I also read that most tropical and semi tropical seeds lose viability quickly, I had a devil of a time getting store bought tamarind seeds to germinate.

If I were you I'd just try to start them off right away.

Just curious, you're in grape country, why not try something native? Or are you trying to grow them indoors? If this is true, Muscadine / scuppernong grapes may be better choices, they're delicious to boot, not even the homeless eat Sea Grapes :-)


    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:45PM
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Just read your posting. The Sea Grape will be grown as a houseplant, and trained into a tree-form as they get larger, then placed on a back deck in the warmer months. I have no interest in using these plants to make wine. I just wanted something ornamental, and different.

Thanks for your help.

Frank, from Da-Bronx

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 2:14PM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

They self seed easily on the beach almost anywhere in Brazil. Beach = sand. Brazil = heat ! Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 1:34AM
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Thanks, so much for the input and answers.

Your weeds are my exotic, potted, house plants!

Thanks for the help.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 4:44PM
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Well Frank, since you're determined to get sea grapes going you may want to start with fresh ones, and use a sandy soil.

They are very tolerant of salt, and drought, though I've never read that they require salt. They will be flowering here around April, May, and June and fruit about now. If you would like some fresh seeds, I can look at several trees I pass every day and if available pick some and send them to you.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 6:53PM
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Hi gnappi,
You just answered a question I had about coccolobas, which is whether they need salt. I first ate these fruits in Puerto Rico and liked them. Now I'm in Guatemala part of each year and have a two plants which are about eight feet high, but after a year, have not fruited. I'm at a mile elevation here and nowhere near the coast. Do you happen to know how long it takes the plants to start fruiting?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 1:44PM
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I do not know how old they need to be before fruiting, but you need both female and male plants to get fruit (see links at the end).

I do not think that they need salt as they have been used fairly often in yards as ornamental trees in Florida. Whether or not they do better with it I do not know.


also regarding time from sprout to fruit:

right here on gardenweb

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 8:43PM
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I recently purchased a large quantity of cleaned, Coccoloba uvifera-"SEA GRAPE" seed. I carefully cracked a few open and found that the three-sided kernel was dried out and not at all fleshy. The seeds looked dry, and if I were to guess, I would say that the seeds were not harvested recently, but stored. How long....who knows? This is just a guess on my part. I do not know what a fresh seed looks like when cracked open, but I expected to see something like the fleshy, moist, kernel of a Ginkgo nut, or an acorn, but instead, the kernels had the texture like a Almond, and easily crumbled. The thin shells could be cracked very easily and I was able to remove all the little 1/4" kernels intact. I then soaked them in warm water for 24 hours, and they swelled up to twice the original size. I plan on sowing them in damp coconut coir, with some bottom heat.

I've read all the information I could find for growing these seeds, but no sources ever mention what the fresh seeds look like when the thin shells are cracked open, and none mention cracking the thin shells to expose the inside kernels to moisture. They say to "scarify" the seeds, and sow. Scarification just gets moisture to the seed kernels quicker. I bypassed this step by removing the seed kernels first. I guess the germinated seeds would just push open the outer capsule, and strike roots.

My concern is that I have seeds that are no longer viable because they were dried out. If this is the case, all my efforts were for nothing, because the seeds were delivered dead.

Has anyone had extensive experiences growing this plant from seed? I know they grow all over Florida, and the seeds spring up where they drop. But that's in Florida, and that's fresh seed. I live in NYC, and must rely on mail order for tropical seeds, so my sowing/growing conditions are a bit different from the native say the least.

If anyone can give me their opinions, suggestions, I would greatly appreciate the help. Thanks.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 8:57AM
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I recently posted my story outlining my experiences with germinating seeds of "SEA GRAPE" (Coccoloba uvifera).

I am happy to report that after sowing the seeds in damp coconut fiber, I have noticed roots starting to sprout out of the pointed ends of the seeds. I assume the seeds have now started to germinate, and will continue to grow into small trees. In a few weeks I will transplant these new "sprouts" into individual pots and grow them in a sunny area until I can place them outside, where they will continue to grow on my sun-drenched, back deck. My plan is to grow them as single-stem trees, and after they reach about 4-5 ft. tall, I will plant about 20 small treelets together in one pot, and braid the individual trunks together so that they can fuse into one, fat, trunk supporting a nice rack of leaves. I have seen this fusing technique done with Ficus benjamina, and Hibiscus. This will become my new, patio "tree"... which I will over-winter in my NYC kitchen.

Anyway,..that's my plan. Will it work? Who knows?


    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Hi Bronx Figs,
Any update on your Sea Grapes? I am in Texas and first fell in love with this plant when I saw it in the Dominican Republic. I have had a hell of a time finding seeds though. Can you share where you got your seeds from? I've picked some, but they were too young and the seeds were not ready.

How did your twisting technique turn out? I'd love to see some pics..


    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 2:42PM
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