Gopher Apple (Geobalanus oblongifolius) is a native long-lived perennial shrub that can grow up to two feet tall and can be found in scrub, pine flatwoods, and behind beach dunes. As a geoxyle (a plant with especially deep and woody root system, also known as “underground tree”), Gopher Apple is especially well adapted to frequent fire that naturally maintains the biodiversity and keeps these places open and suitable as habitat for many animals like the Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus). As the name implies, the Gopher Apple’s delicious pink fruit is a major nutritious food source for the eponymous tortoise which is also a keystone species with its extensive burrows where more than 350 other species find shelter, especially during fire.
Exotic (non-native) plants can never be a substitute for natives. Let’s reestablish nature by creating habitat for wildlife with native plants in our yards! If you are interested in native plants for your yard, visit the ELC nursery with frequently changing assortment (open 7 days a week!)
Learn more about Florida by becoming a member of the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach and join our members-only guided field trips through conservation areas in Indian River and Brevard counties!