wild coffee

Q: My friend gave me a small shrub.  She said it is a native wild coffee plant.  What can you tell me about it?

A:  Wild coffee, Psychotria nervosa, is a Florida native shrub which gets its common name from the small, red, fruit it produces. Fruit resembles the true coffee bean. The leaves of this plant are generally 6 inches long, with very distinct vein on the upper surface. There are fine hairs along the underside of the leaf main mid-rib.  The shiny, dark green foliage gives a rich texture to any landscape. The plant produces small, white flowers which occur at the end of the shrub branches during the warm months of the year. Wild coffee is a moderately drought tolerant plant which grows in partial shade or full shade and well drained soil. If it is grown in full sun, its leaves will be pale yellow. A plant in the full shade can grow into a small tree with an open canopy. It is better suited for cold hardiness zones 10b-11, which remember is south Florida.  Wild coffee will require protection during the winter if grown in our area. It looks very similar to the invasive plant called coral ardisia but coral ardisia is cold tolerant.