Citharexylum spinosum L., Sp. Pl. 625 (1753)

Species name meaning 'spiny', although the tree has no spines.

Citharexylum bahamense Millsp. ex Britton
Citharexylum broadwayi O.E.Schulz
Citharexylum caudatum Sw. [Illegitimate]
Citharexylum cinereum L. [Illegitimate]
Citharexylum cinereum Moc. & Sesse ex D.Don [Illegitimate]
Citharexylum coriaceum Desf.
Citharexylum fruticosum L. [Illegitimate]
Citharexylum fruticosum forma bahamense (Millsp. ex Britton) Moldenke
Citharexylum fruticosum var. brittonii Moldenke
Citharexylum fruticosum var. smallii Moldenke
Citharexylum fruticosum forma subserratum (Sw.) Moldenke
Citharexylum fruticosum var. subserratum (Sw.) Moldenke
Citharexylum fruticosum forma subvillosum (Moldenke) Moldenke
Citharexylum fruticosum var. subvillosum Moldenke
Citharexylum fruticosum var. villosum (Jacq.) O.E.Schulz
Citharexylum hybridum Moldenke
Citharexylum laevigatum Hostm. ex Griseb.
Citharexylum molle Salisb.
Citharexylum molle Jacq. ex Spreng. [Illegitimate]
Citharexylum pentandrum Vent.
Citharexylum polystachyum Turcz.
Citharexylum pulverulentum Pers.
Citharexylum quadrangulare Jacq.
Citharexylum spinosum forma brittonii (Moldenke) I.E.Mendez
Citharexylum spinosum forma smallii (Moldenke) I.E.Mendez
Citharexylum spinosum forma subserratum (Sw.) I.E.Mendez
Citharexylum spinosum forma subvillosum (Moldenke) I.E.Mendez
Citharexylum spinosum forma villosum (Jacq.) I.E.Mendez
Citharexylum subserratum Sw.
Citharexylum surrectum Griseb.
Citharexylum teres Jacq.
Citharexylum tomentosum Poir.
Citharexylum villosum Jacq.
Colletia tetragona Brongn.

A tree that reaches a height of up to 15 m. Branches and twigs usually tetragonal. Leaves opposite, without stipules, ovate to elliptic, 4-20 cm long, glands present at the base of the leaf, sometimes with orange petioles. Small white flowers are produced throughout the year on hanging axillary and terminal racemes and panicles 20-40 cm in length. The fruits are red to black subglobose drupes 7-10 mm in diameter.

A tree up to 15 m tall. The branches of this tree are generally tetragonal, sometimes cylindrical and ridged, glabrous on the nodes. The leaves have petioles 5-30 mm long, glabrous, glandular at the apex; the leaf surface is generally papery or almost leathery in texture, with 1-3 pairs of glands near the base, orbicular, oval, oblong, elliptic-lanceolate, or linear-lanceolate, 4-20 cm long, 1-6 cm wide, glabrous on the upper side, glabrous or with variable pubescence on the underside; dark green on both sides or slightly brighter or rusty on the underside, obtusely pointed or notched at the apex; the margin slightly curled back, normally entire. The flowers are in racemes which are generally terminal, with others axillary, lax, with many flowers. The flowers are functionally unisexual and the trees are dioecious. These flowers are spreading and fragrant; the calyx a pallid green, 2-4 mm long, glabrous on the outside; the corolla white, white-yellow, or white-red. The fruit is a drupe, oblong, 6-10 mm long, initially yellow-orange, but black when mature. [from]

Growing in hammocks and occasionally pinelands, on moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with humusy top layer. Care should be taken as it is an aggressive invasive, if it escapes it can become a serious pest by forming dense thickets that choke out other vegetation. This has already happened on several of the Hawaiian islands. As well, the roots of the tree can be very aggressive, and cause damage to pipes and other underground services. When the tree becomes a pest, control is difficult: cutting, even to ground level, is of little use, as the tree resprouts.

Originally from the Carribean region and northern South America. Now cultivated pan-tropical as an ornamental.

Ornamental. The wood from this tree is widely used for musical instrument-making, especially in the West Indies. It is very hard, heavy and strong, the sapwood is light brown and thin, and the heartwood is orange to red. It has a lovely grain, and a beautiful glow when polished. It is especially prized for violins and guitars. The wood is exceptionally good for woodturning. It works well when wet, but when dry it will sometimes check. It has other uses: cabinet work, general building construction, and even, in Puerto Rico, for fence posts. Fruits edible, juicy and sweet.

Local names
English: Fiddlewood, Florida Fiddlewood, Jamaican fiddlewood, Spiny Fiddlewood.