Q: I keep seeing the dark blue berries on the Indian Hawthorn shrubs. Do they attract birds? I see these plants all over commercial areas but I never see any birds eating them.
A: Indian Hawthorn, Raphiolepis indica, is an evergreen shrub that produces an abundance of fruit during the fall and winter months which indeed attract birds. The reason you may see few birds may have something to do with heavy foot and automobile traffic at these commercial sites, although I have no scientific research to back up that hypothesis. Indian Hawthorn shrubs are extremely hardy, they can handle most any type of light condition, are highly salt tolerant and moderately drought tolerant, which is the reason they are used so often at commercial sites. They grow at fairly slow rates reaching mature heights around 6-8 feet but can spread up to 15 feet. Several cultivars exist which may be better choices for home or commercial sites such as ‘Ballerina’ which only reaches 1- 2 feet in height; ‘Jack Evans’ with double pink flowers; or ‘Snow White’ produces white flowers with a spreading growth habit. For other cultivar suggestions and more information on this plant see the attached University of Florida/IFAS website developed by Dr. Ed Gilman: http://hort.ufl.edu/shrubs/RAPINDA.PDF