Tropical Asia, Pacific Islands
Reported as naturalized in Miami-Dade County near Homestead in 1971 (Long and Lakela), as becoming a “weed tree” in south Florida in 1974 (Morton), and as invading hammocks (Morton 1976). Now common in old fields and disturbed wetland sites, and invading intact cypress domes and tropical hardwood hammocks, where it displaces native vegetation and alters the structure of the plant community (personal observations of several veteran land managers in southeast counties). Used extensively in street landscaping throughout south Florida for many years. Its landscape use now discouraged by some horticulturists (Broschat and Meerow 1991). Listed as a Category I invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.
Evergreen tree commonly 12-18 m (35-60 ft) in height, with dense, rounded head, smooth branches, and milky sap. Leaves alternate, long-petioled, trifoliolate (3 leaflets); leaflets shiny, bronze-toned, oval-elliptic, 15-20 cm (6-8 in) long, with margins small toothed. Flowers tiny, without petals, greenish-yellow, in many-flowered clusters (racemes) at leaf axils; male and female flowers on separate plants (dioecious). Fruit pea-sized, berrylike, fleshy, to 9 mm (0.33 in) in diameter, brown or reddish or blue-black, 3-celled.
Leaves are bright green, shiny, with prominent veins and toothed edges. Stems are reddish.
Brought to Florida in 1947 for ornamental landscape use.
Bishopwood is occasionally found in disturbed hammocks from central Florida and the south peninsula.
Do not plant. Hand pull root system and seedlings.