Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the the March 16, 2009 Newsletter, issued from near Natchez, Mississippi:

In the Refuge at the water's edge the most brightly flowering shrub or small tree is shown -- with an alligator in the canal behind and to the left -- above.

That's the Swamp-Privet, FORESTIERA ACUMINATA, a shrub native to the Southeastern and South-Central US. A close-up of some of its male flowers (the plant being monoecious, with individual flowers either male or female, but both sexes found on the same plant) with four yellow, petal-like sepals below many stamens is below:

Swamp-Privet, FORESTIERA ACUMINATA, flowers.

Swamp-Privets are members of the Olive Family, the Oleaceae, along with privets, lilacs, Forsythia and ash trees.

The book Native American Ethnobotany By Daniel E. Moerman (available online through Google Books; Google the title) reports that the Houma people of southern Louisiana traditionally used a decoction of Swamp-Privet roots and bark as a "health beverage" panacea.