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Chinese Parasol Tree
 

COMMON NAMES: PARASOL TREE, CHINESE PARASOL TREE, CHINESE VARNISH-TREE, PHOENIX-TREE, BOTTLE-TREE, CHINESE BOTTLE TREE, JAPANESE VARNISH TREE, PHOENIXTREE



Firmiana
simplex  (fir-me-AHN-ah sim-plex)

Sterculiaceae (Chocolate or Cacao Family)

Deciduous shade tree

HEIGHT:   30 to 60 feet
SPREAD:   30 to 40 feet
FINAL SPACING: 20 to 50 feet

NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE:   Native of Japan and China, cultivated in the United States and escaped to various parts of the south now. It grows well in a wide variety of soils from sand to heavy clays.

IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION:  Distinctive upright tree with smooth green bark, a rounded crown and very large leaves and dramatic seeds that mature in the fall.

FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Yellowish-green flowers in June or July followed by showy brown fruit. Flowers are 4 to 12 inches long, terminal panicles, male and female plants on the same tree (monoecious).

BARK:     Unusual smooth green bark even on the mature tree trunks.

FOLIAGE:  Leaves are alternate, simple, deciduous fall color is yellow. Leaves are large 5 to 18 inches, usually 3 blades, dull green, slightly hairy above and below.

CULTURE:  Parasol tree is easy to grow in a wide range of soils given a moderate amount of moisture and fertilizer. It is relatively drought tolerant.

PROBLEMS: Few serious problems other than the tree has weak wood and is relatively short lived. Some people think it is too coarse. I think it is an interesting looking tree, although I wouldn’t plant a lot of them.

PROPAGATION:  Easy to grow from seed planted fresh immediately after maturing. They can be saved at cool temperatures for some period of time.

INSIGHT:  Parasol tree is easy to grow from seed. It can become a pest from seedlings popping up all over the garden unless the beds are heavily mulched.


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