Ernodea littoralis, more commonly known as Golden Creeper or Beach Creeper, is a great island native that loves salt, sand and sun making it a great beach planting. It’s native to Florida and found throughout the Florida Keys and up the coasts to Central Florida. It is also found in the Bahamas and most of the Caribbean.
Golden creeper is a vine-like shrub with long, slender branches. It tends to spread rather than grow tall, with a height of about 1 to 3 feet. Leaves should be a bright green, but are more often yellow in color probably due to the stress of its often harsh environment. Flowers produced are small, tubular in shape with four pink lobes and a long white corolla tube. They will bloom all year round.
This hardy native is most often planted as a groundcover. It is especially useful as a driveway or sidewalk border; where full sun, poor soils, or distance from a water source make other plants impractical. It does not like the cold and will not do well where winter temperatures drop below 35°F (no problem there). Unpruned plants have a tendency to become leggy. Do not clip at all in the winter, but do give it a trim 2 to 3 times per year to help shape it as it does tend to sprawl. Fertilize it in the spring will enhance its green color. Planted in a dryer location or on the beach, the Golden (Beach) Creeper will be a nice addition to the native palette of plants in your landscape.
This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, a Sanibel garden center, located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, Florida.