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A tree up to 100 ft high in the wild; young stems downy at first, later glabrous except at the tips and reddish brown. Leaves oblong-ovate or elliptic, acute or acuminate at the apex, 4 to 7 in. long, 2 to 4 in. wide, entire or quite often angular-toothed, dark green above, undersurface paler, finely downy at first, sometimes glabrous later; leaf-stalks up to 21⁄2 in. long. Female flowers solitary. Fruits ellipsoid, about 1 in. long, purple, with a thin flesh, borne on slender stalks; stone deeply and sharply ridged.
A native of the south-eastern USA, in the coastal plain and the lower reaches of the Mississippi, said to attain its best development in Louisiana and E. Texas; cultivated by Peter Collinson in 1735, but very uncommon in Britain. It grows mainly in swampy ground which is inundated except in summer, often to a depth of 6 ft. In such situations the trunk becomes remarkably swollen at the base. In the absence of flower or fruit this species can easily be distinguished from N. sylvatica by its winter-wood, its lateral buds being very small and roundish, but conspicuous and ovoid in N. sylvatica.
N. ogeche Marsh. N. candicans Michx. – This species, confined to southern S. Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, has more than once been introduced to Kew but has never become established and is very probably tender. It is remarkable for its red fruits, which are pleasantly flavoured and have been used as a substitute for limes – hence the popular name ‘ogeechee lime’.