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TRIPLARIS cumingiana

Image of Triplaris cumingiana

Mauroguanandi, Flickr Contributor

Family

Polygonaceae

Botanical Name

TRIPLARIS cumingiana

Plant Common Name

Ant Tree, Long John

General Description

A highly ornamental tree, long john displays colorful exfoliating bark and rosy violet blooms from winter to spring. This semi-evergreen rainforest tree is native from Panama to northern Peru. Fast growing, it grows best in heat and humidity. Mature trees are upright and narrow with oval crowns. This "ant tree" is a true myrmecophyte, meaning it's naturally inhabited and protected by stinging ants in its native habitat.

The large, oblong leaves are glossy green and deeply veined. The trees are dioecious, meaning plants have either male or female flowers. Both male and female blooms are tiny, white and green and produced from late winter into spring. Only female trees produce a colorful display; after pollination, the sepals on female flowers elongate and turn rosy red-violet. As the seeds mature, the sepals enlarge and split, creating shuttlecock-like parachutes that carry the seeds away via wind.

Grow long john in full to partial sun and deep, fertile soil with lots of organic matter. This tree appreciates moisture-retentive ground but will tolerate brief seasonal drought as well as periodic flooding. Plant small groves, with one male tree among multiple females. The female trees should be placed in more prominent garden settings.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    55'-70' / 16.8m - 21.3m

  • Width

    30'-45' / 9.1m - 13.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    White, Magenta, Rose, Light Green, Violet

  • Fruit Color

    Magenta, Rose, Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Salmon, Light Green, Gray Green, Tan, Ivory

  • Bark Color Modifier

    Multi-Color, Spotted/Mottled

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Street Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes