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LOPHANTHERA lactescens

Image of Lophanthera lactescens

Jan Smith, Flickr Contributor

Family

Malpighiaceae

Botanical Name

LOPHANTHERA lactescens

Plant Common Name

Golden Chain Tree

General Description

Travel the rivers and forests across Brazil's Amazon Basin, and you'll encounter the showy golden chain tree. This semi-deciduous flowering tree is becoming increasingly more rare as its habitat is destroyed. And it is rarely used in tropical gardens because it transplants poorly its seed is viable for only a short time. Somewhat fast-growing, it attains an an upright, slightly rounded habit. The thin, pale gray to tan bark is warty and exudes bitter milky sap if damaged.

The glossy, emerald green leaves are large, plump and oval-shaped with wide, obtuse tips. During the mid- to late summer rainy season, branch tips produce long, pendulous flower clusters (racemes). Each contains 300 to 500 tiny yellow flowers that are rich in nectar and lure bees for pollination. Flowers first open up at the top of the raceme and progress down the cluster. Small, pea-shaped, gray pods follow which contain single black seeds and ripens by spring. Cooler, drier winter weather causes partial defoliation.

Golden chain tree is surprisingly easy to grow even though the seed doesn't remain viable for long and transplanting is rarely successful. Sow fresh seed where the tree is to permanently grow and choose a site with full sun to bright shade and organic-rich, deep, fertile soil that's not alkaline. It demonstrates some drought tolerance but performs much better in humid conditions where it is warm year round. Use it as a street tree or park specimen in frost-free regions. This tree often develops multiple trunks or one trunk that branches at a relatively low height.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    50'-65' / 15.2m - 19.8m

  • Width

    15'-30' / 4.6m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Lemon Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, 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

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No