Scaevola taccada
Common Name: beach naupaka 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Goodeniaceae
Native Range: Pacific and Indian ocean regions
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 3.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: White tinged with purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12. It is easily grown in moist, well-drained, sandy soils in full sun. Established shrubs have some drought tolerance. In Florida plus some Caribbean islands, this shrub has demonstrated invasive tendencies by escaping plantings designed to control coastal erosion and spreading into other coastal areas with resulting displacement of native coastal plants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Scaevola taccada, commonly called beach naupaka, beach cabbage, fan flower or half flower, is a dense, thicket-forming, evergreen shrub that typically grows in a rounded but spreading mound to 3-10' tall and to 6-15' wide. It is native to ocean beaches throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, typically growing close to the water on sandy or rocky soils exposed to salt spray. Branches will root where they touch the ground, which means this aggressive shrub can spread easily, and can be, in the right circumstances, a good shrub for erosion control. Seeds are spread by birds and by water (seeds are buoyant). Glossy bright green leaves (to 6" long) are obovate (broad rounded tips) with revolute margins (edges curled under). Fragrant flowers (white tinged with purple) have a fan-like shape, hence the common names of fan flower and half flower. Each flower has 5 petals in a fan-like semi-circle (all petals on one side of the flower). Flowers bloom from the leaf axils in small clusters throughout the year. Flowers are followed by spherical fleshy white berries whose seeds are buoyant and can remain in the ocean for up to one year without losing the ability to germinate. During the 1970s and 1980s, this shrub was commonly planted for beach stabilization. Although admittedly good for erosion control, its spreading tendencies highlight the downside of its use, namely, displacement of native coastal vegetation. This shrub is now considered to be somewhat invasive in Florida and some of the Caribbean islands because of its demonstrated ability to escape plantings and overwhelm native plants.

Synonymous with Scaevola sericea and Lobelia taccada.

Genus name comes from the Greek scaeva meaning left-handed for the hand-like aspect of the flower.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Plants can be difficult to remove once established (broken underground stem pieces can easily produce new growth).

Garden Uses

Coastal plant that shows excellent tolerance for salty conditions. Effective soil binder to help control coastal erosion unless invasive spread occurs. Additional uses include sprawling shrubby ground cover, windbreak or massed planting.