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DILLENIA indica

Image of Dillenia indica

Mark A. Miller

Family

Dilleniaceae

Botanical Name

DILLENIA indica

Plant Common Name

Chulta, Elephant Apple

Special Notice

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

General Description

Everything about the chulta is big and elephant-like: the leaves, flowers, fruits and overall tree habit. It's a beauty to behold in any season. This large, evergreen tropical tree is native to forest riverbanks across tropical Asia: India and Sri Lanka to southern China and Indonesia. It develops a handsome, rounded but spreading canopy. Bark becomes reddish brown.

The leaves are simply beautiful. Each is papery, glossy dark green and the size of a man's foot. Undersides are downy and parallel pleats complete the amazing and pretty foliage characteristics. Flowering occurs intermittently across the summer on branch tips. An ivory flower is huge, nearly the size of a cantaloupe. Five oblong, ruffled petals and numerous yellow stamens comprise each pendent bloom. The flowers are short-lived, but if pollinated become grapefruit-sized fruits. The knobby fruits are yellow-green, and ripen with a leathery brown covering and interior brown-black seeds. The edible fruits are crisp and aromatic (almost onion-like) with an acid flesh. Unripe fruits are often pickled or used as chutney.

Grow chulta in full to partial sun in an acidic, humusy soil with average drainage. This tree prospers with lots of heat and high humidity. It's sensitive to cold, but will survive a brief encounter with frost. It makes an impressive and magnificent tropical shade and feature tree in any garden with the space. Chilly and dry winters causes some foliage to abort.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    40'-65' / 12.2m - 19.8m

  • Width

    45'-70' / 13.7m - 21.3m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, India, China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Yellow Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Sienna

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Shade Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes