White Stopper (Eugenia monticola syn. Eugenia axillaris)
White Stopper is a shrub that grows up to 6 m (20 ft) tall. It is native to Bermuda, Florida and the West Indies. White Stopper was once common and thrived in the shade of the original Bermudian forest, below taller trees like Bermuda Cedars and Palmettos. White Stopper is now rare due to forest clearing and competition from invasive species. They can still be found in Walsingham and at Abbot’s Cliff and in some older neighbourhoods, like Point Shares in Pembroke. White Stopper has been planted in Nature Reserves on Nonsuch Island and Cooper’s Island and is growing well.
White Stopper gets its name from the white colour of the bark on its trunk. The leaves of White Stopper are about 5 cm (2 inches) long with smooth edges and rounded tips. The leaves are often affected by damage from leaf-boring insects, which appears as light coloured (usually yellow) patches in the middle of the leaf. The veins in the damaged patch are often red.
White Stopper flowers in summer and autumn. The flowers are small and white, and resemble the flowers of the Surinam Cherry which is related. The flowers are followed by small round fruit about 1cm or ½ inch in diameter. The fruit are green when they appear in the autumn and turn purplish black as they ripen over the winter. Many plants in Bermuda do not produce flowers and fruit.
White Stopper is closely related to the invasive Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) and can be confused with it. The most obvious difference is the colour and shape of the fruit and the time of year that it appears. Also the leaves of White Stopper are robust and dull while the Surinam Cherry leaves are shiny and thin. The Cherry never suffers from insect-related leaf damage the way White Stopper does. White Stopper can also be identified by the distinctive musky smell that these shrubs give off.