Firmiana - Chinese Parasol Tree, Phoenix Tree, Varnish Tree
DESCRIPTION: This attractive, tender tree is a native of Africa and Asia. F.simplex is commonly known as the Chinese Parasol Tree, Phoenix Tree and Varnish Tree. It is very disease and pest resistant and makes a suitable shade tree. The Chinese Parasol Tree is valued for its huge, 5-lobed leaves, which measure up to a foot across. This tree grows fairly quickly when young, eventually reaching a height of 20 to 40 feet. The bark is shiny, grayish green and in mid-summer, the tree produces 12- to 18-inch spikes of greenish-white flowers. The flowers are followed by 4-inch pods that will split open into 4 sections. As the pods open, a brown fluid, looking like varnish, is discharged; thus, one of the common names. Round, pea-sized seeds grow along the edges of the sections. The seed pods can be picked and used for winter decorations.
POTTING: The Chinese Parasol Tree can only be grown in tropical, frost-free climates. If it is grown in areas with an occasional frost, some branches that may be injured should just be pruned out. It grows best in full sun and can live in almost any moist, but well-drained soil. It should be planted in a sheltered location.
PROPAGATION: Seeds can be used to increase these tree.
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