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COCHLOSPERMUM vitifolium

Image of Cochlospermum vitifolium

Rolando PĂ©rez, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution

Family

Bixaceae

Botanical Name

COCHLOSPERMUM vitifolium

Plant Common Name

Brazilian Rose, Buttercup-tree

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Austere, barren skeletal branches are seen on the buttercup-tree for nearly half of the year, but the ornate yellow flowers in late winter remind you the tree is still alive. This fast-growing deciduous tree is native to the arid savannahs and scrublands of Mexico and Central America. The tree is upright in habit, but the awkwardly oval canopy reveals stubby, random branches. Bark is pale gray, adding to the tree's ghostly look.

The green leaves are palmately compound, looking like hands or grapevine foliage. The long petioles are red. Leaf undersides are grayish and the leaf edges are toothed. During extreme drought or winter chill, the leaves readily drop away. It's mainly deciduous for a long period from autumn to mid- or late spring. Very warm winters may delay entire leaf drop. From midwinter to very early spring, buttercup-tree bears its pretty, bowl-shaped blossoms. A flower has five golden yellow petals surrounding a central mass of curled orange stamens. Bees flock to the flowers for nectar. After pollination, a round capsule forms that is velvety. Inside, seeds are nestled in a fine, silky down. The foliage doesn't return until late spring when tropical rains return.

Grow buttercup-tree in full sun and a thoroughly well-drained soil. A dry, moderately fertile soil is perfect, but use restraint in fertilizing, as it can prevent flower production. Trees may be propagated from seed or sticking large branches into the soil to take root. Use buttercup-tree as a specimen in the frost-free rockery or water-conservation landscape. It may also be grown in a large planter box or used as a screen or low-cost living fence.

Variety plenum, the double buttercup-tree, produces flowers with extra petals that look like tiny roses. This tree typically doesn't yield any fruits or seeds.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 14

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    25'-40' / 7.6m - 12.2m

  • Width

    20'-30' / 6.1m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Tan, Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Fruit Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    White, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Corky

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Street Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No