Mark A. Miller
Plant Common Name
Chulta, Elephant Apple
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
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.
AHS Heat Zone
12 - 9
USDA Hardiness Zone
10 - 15
H1, H2, 24
Full Sun, Partial Sun
40'-65' / 12.2m - 19.8m
45'-70' / 13.7m - 21.3m
Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer
Southeastern Asia, India, China
Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Shade Trees, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns