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Wake Up to Wild Coffee

July 1, 2021

Are you looking for a Florida native plant that can add a stately look to your garden? Look no further than wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa). This plant is attractive in any garden, due to its glossy green foliage and because it is a hardy, drought tolerant plant that can handle both sun and shade. Due to its dark textured foliage, it is sometimes mistaken for a gardenia plant. As a matter of fact, the gardenia and wild coffee both belong to the same family of plant—Rubiaceae. While wild coffee is in the same family as true coffee, coffea spp., they are not the same species.

Florida wild coffee does not produce a bean that is edible by humans. The “beans” or fruit that the plant produces, resembles a coffee bean, but does not contain any caffeine. The fruit of the plant ripens during November and December. They are reddish purple in color and grow to about a half inch in length. The fruit of the plant is eaten by a large variety of birds. The species of birds that eat the beans include the Florida state bird, the mockingbird, as well as blue jays, catbirds, and cardinals. Wild coffee also produces a bloom that will show in spring and summer. The flowers of the plant are white and attract some varieties of butterflies, such as the rare Atala butterfly, found mostly in southeast Florida

One of the main reasons this plant could be a great addition to a garden is its durability. Once established, wild coffee requires little to no care. It is moderately salt-tolerant and can be used in ocean front plantings, if the plant is somewhat protected from direct salt spray. This shrub can grow to a height of approximately 4-10 feet tall when left untrimmed, or can be trimmed to maintain a more manageable height of 3-4 feet. Wild coffee
performs best in a partial to full shade environment. If grown in full sun, it will develop yellowish leaves and its growth will not be as full as when planted in a shadier environment. Some of the best applications for this plant are when it is used as a filler plant for a planting bed or at the base of a tree. The minimal care requirements and glossy foliage are superb attributes, as to why wild coffee can enhance your garden.

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