The Twelve Days of a Green Christmas…Sixth Day

On the sixth day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…six coffee plants…five bamboo toothbrushes…four stainless straws..three pairs of socks…two recycled pallets…and a new electric car!

For all my coffee loving friends…no, these wild coffee plants are not going to grow coffee beans or provide you with cups of delicious coffee!  The berries produced resemble coffee beans but they do not contain any caffeine. However, the beans have been brewed for ceremonial and medicinal purposes by Native Americans

Photo credit: Wild Coffee – U of Florida IFAS

Psychotria nervosa are Florida native plants that do well in our climates, requiring little water to thrive. Depending on where you live the plants may grow about 5-8 feet tall, spreading 4-8 feet (south Florida) or may end up being a ground cover in the most northern areas of Florida or a small shrub in central Florida. The waxy, deep green 5″ glossy leaves are a beautiful addition to any landscape offering partial or full shade and a paler green if grown in full sun. Small white flowers that bloom in spring and summer have a gardenia-like fragrance which can be captivating. The half inch bright red berries that follow in the late summer or early fall are a stunning contrast to the dark green leaves if grown in the shade.

Photo credit: Wild Coffee – U of Florida IFAS

Not only are Psychotria nervosa a great alternative to gardenia plants they require little care, no fertilizers and are relatively pest free. Honeybees fertilize the flowers and various butterflies including our state butterfly, the zebra longwing and the spicebush swallowtail enjoy the nectar of the flowers. The red berries contain two seeds and are an important food source for cardinals, catbirds, mockingbirds, blue jays and other birds. If you haven’t had luck with non-native gardenias and would like to increase your native plantings, wild coffee plants may be the perfect solution. If you have been growing wild coffee plants I would enjoy seeing pictures of them in your landscape. Please add your comments/photos in the comments below!

Zebra Longwing Photo Credit: U of FL IFAS
Spicebush Swallowtail Photo Credit: U of FL IFAS

My green friend knew I have been working to replace my dead shrubs with more native, drought-tolerant plants/shrubs that would attract more birds and butterflies so these were a much appreciated gift! Not only will these wild coffee plants provide lovely fragrances they will be a beautiful addition to my landscape!

Thank you for reading my post and please join me tomorrow for the Seventh Day of a Green Christmas! If you’re curious about the history of the Twelve Days of Christmas you can find that here. Join me tomorrow and see what my Green Friend gifts me…I’m sure it will be fun, educational, useful or possibly edible! Whatever the gift I know it will make a positive impact on the environment!


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