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BOTANICAL NAME: Sideroxylon langinosum (Bumelia lanuginosa)  boo-ME-lee-ah lay-noo-gee-NO-sah

FAMILY: Sapotaceae (Sapodilla Family)

TYPE: Semi evergreen to deciduous tree

HEIGHT: 50 to 60 feet

SPREAD: 30 to 40 feet

FINAL SPACING: 20 to 40 feet

NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Chittamwood grows in full sun in all of Texas except for the High Plains and is tolerant of a wide range of soils.

IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: Chittamwood is an upright tree that looks similar to a live oak. It has generally an irregular shape with a stiff spiny branches, clusters of leaves and dark fruit in the fall. Sometimes forms thickets.

FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Flowers are fragrant, small, off-white to yellow, bloom primarily in June to July, are ¼ to ½ inch across. The fruit is a fleshy black lustrous droop that matures September through October. Each fruit contains one seed which is brown and rounded.

BARK: Dark brown to gray and fissured into narrow ridges. Heavy texture develops with age.

FOLIAGE: Leaves are clustered similar to live oak tree foliage growth. Smooth on the top but hairy beneath giving a white, gray or tan color to the underside of the leaf. The leaves are almost evergreen and they will sometimes stay on the tree for more than one season. Chittamwood is fully evergreen in the southern part of the state. Yellow fall color

CULTURE: Relatively easy to grow in most soils with normal amounts of water and fertilizer. Considered fairly drought tolerant. Relatively slow growing tree with a deep taproot that provides the drought tolerance. Adapts well to most landscape conditions.

PROBLEMS: Borers will attack the tree when in stress resulting from too much or too little water, compaction, or over fertilization. The Sick Tree Treatment is the solution. Some people consider the thorns a problem.

PROPAGATION: Fruits can be gathered in the early fall at maturity and either air dried or macerated in water. Some recommend a treatment of sulfuric acid for two hours followed by water washing to help speed up germination. Sometimes the seed are stratified in moist sand or peat in the fall prior to a spring planting at 41 degrees for 30 to 60 days. Chittamwood can also be propagated from softwood cuttings.

INSIGHT: Flowers are fragrant and are popular with honeybees. Fruit is edible and although not very tasty, birds are fond of them. Wood is used to make tool handles and in cabinet making is hard and heavy but sometimes weak. Chittamwood is closely related to the sapodilla tree, which produces the latex used to make chewing gum. Children of early pioneers chewed the sap of the chittamwood.


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