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POSOQUERIA latifolia

Image of Posoqueria latifolia

James Burghardt

Family

Rubiaceae

Botanical Name

POSOQUERIA latifolia

Plant Common Name

Brazilian Oak, Needle-flower Tree, Perfume-tree

General Description

A stiff-looking tree with glossy foliage, the needle-flower tree is prized for its long, tubular flowers that emit gardenia-like perfume at night. This small evergreen tropical has upright branches and develops a mounded, spreading canopy if grown as a specimen tree in an open area with plenty of light; trees crowded in groves become narrower and taller. This species is native to the humid forests of Mexico and northern South America where it commonly grows in volcanic soils.

The dense leaves are leathery, glossy, dark green and have a broadly tongue-like shape. Flowering occurs reliably and heavily in both spring and autumn, when warm dry spells are broken by rains. The pale green flower buds are produced in horizontal clusters and elongate and turn white before opening. The bud tips become plumper and before opening to show five petal lobes. Each bloom has a very long floral tube that produces sweet perfume and nectar at night for pollinating hawkmoths. After pollination, small round yellow fruits develop, which are fleshy and edible, but don't taste great.

Grow needle-flower tree in full sun to very bright shade. In spacious sites with ample sun, the tree becomes broad and full. It grows quickly in deep, fertile soils enriched with organic matter. Evenly moist soil is best, even though this species is drought tolerant. Any branches that droop and touch soil will take root. Needle-flower tree makes an exceptional tropical courtyard tree or landscape specimen. It will also grow well in conservatories or large planter boxes.

The tree's narrow limbs have dense, fine-grained wood often used in making walking canes. This wood is commonly called Brazilian oak.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 13

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    25'-30' / 7.6m - 9.1m

  • Width

    20'-28' / 6.1m - 8.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Fall

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Green

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Gold

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • 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

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No