Ardisia elliptica

Shoebutton ardisia

Nonnative to FloridaFlorida Noxious Weed ListFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: India, China, Southeast Asia 

Shoebutton ardisia was introduced into Florida around 1900 as an ornamental plant. This shade-tolerant invasive may be easily confused with the desirable native marbleberry (Ardisia escallonioides). They grow in similar habitats and have similar large evergreen leaves, and both produce black fruits. However, the native species has white flower clusters which occur only at the stem tips. Shoebutton ardisia produces small, hanging clusters of fruits and the leaves are a bit more narrow and long. Birds readliy spread the fruits of this invasive plant.

Species Characteristics

  • Family: Myrsinaceae
  • Habit: evergreen, glabrous shrub or small tree to 5 m (17 ft) tall, with smooth stems and new foliage often reddish
  • Leaves: alternate, to 20 cm (8 in) long, oblong to oval, fleshy, leathery, gland-dotted below, with margins entire
  • Flowers: axillary clusters, star shaped, 13 mm (0.5 in) wide, with mauve-colored petals
  • Fruit: rounded drupe, 6 mm (< 1 in) wide, red turning to black when ripe, with white juicy flesh
  • Seeds: approximately spherical with a diameter of about 5 mm
  • Distribution in Florida: coastal central and south



Ardisia elliptica grows well in low, wet areas and in old fields. It is abundant in hammocks, disturbed wetlands and tree islands. It also invades cypress and mangrove areas in parts of coastal south Florida. Shoebutton ardisia forms dense single-species stands in forest understories and crowds out native plants.

Shoebutton ardisia is not recmmended by UF/IFAS. It is a prohibited Florida Noxious Weed, as well as listed as prohibited on the UF/IFAS Assessment. It is also listed as a FLEPPC Category I invasive plant. 

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

This prohibited plant should be promptly removed from the landscape. Regular monitoring and removal of plants can prevent the spread and establishment of shoebutton ardisia. Native alternatives to shoebutton ardisia for use in home landscaping or natural areas include marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides), wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) and myrsine (Rapanea punctata).


Remove seed pods if possible and pull seedlings.


Aggressive tillage is an option and somewhat effective, but impractical in many areas.


There are no known biological controls for shoebutton ardisia.

  • Cut stump: 50% Garlon 3A
  • Basal bark: 10% Garlon 4

Learn more about this species

  1. Atlas of Florida Plants
  2. Florida Division of Agriculture and Consumer Services- Noxious Weeds
  3. UF/IFAS Assessment of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
  4. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service- Plants Database
  5. EDIS Publication- Integrated Management of Nonnative Plants in Natural Areas of Florida
  6. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
  7. View the herbarium images from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects