Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cancer Tree, Tree Of Life, Happy Tree, False Tupelo, Xi Shu
Camptotheca acuminata

Family: Nyssaceae
Genus: Camptotheca
Species: acuminata (ah-kew-min-AY-tuh) (Info)

12 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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By JaxFlaGardener
Thumbnail #1 of Camptotheca acuminata by JaxFlaGardener

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1 positive
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative Erblichia On Apr 28, 2014, Erblichia from Houston
United States wrote:

A tree less than 10 years old was already over 30 feet tall and carpeting the ground and areas over 50 feet away with thousands of seedlings. Due to this alarming trait, it was removed two years ago - with seedlings continuing to appear from time to time. This tree holds potential to be extremely invasive in the Gulf Coast region, possibly in the Southeast. Yes, it is very attractive but this does not outweigh the potential threat to our environment. Be warned!

Neutral coburn On Apr 26, 2014, coburn from Cross Roads, PA wrote:

I would like to start a bonsai tree and would like to know if I can obtain a seedling of the Asian happy tree for this purpose. will this work well and where can I purchase a seedling of this tree?
I am currently being treated for cancer with the chemotherapy derived from this tree, and I believe it is working.

Neutral N2tropicAL On Mar 3, 2011, N2tropicAL from Anniston, AL wrote:

who wouldnt want a happy tree in their garden? well, im having second thoughts. although interesting, the plant is starting to produce numerous seedlings in my z8a garden. i have alot of seed germination success in my rich woodland soil, so im hoping this isnt going to be an invasive species outside of my garden's soil conditions. im still watching.

Neutral 33 On Jun 19, 2009, 33 from Foster, RI wrote:

If anyone could please let me know where & or how I can get a hold of an established specimen of the Cancer Tree besides going to LA or purchasing seeds it would mean a lot to me.

I have been trying for years to propogate from seed & the germination part of caring for & raising the plant doesn't like me.

I'm tired of wasting my $ on seeds that wont take, any way I try to germinate them. Any help aould be appreciated.

Neutral germinater On Nov 13, 2007, germinater from (Zone 9a) wrote:

The "Propagation" and "Seed Collecting" information for C. acuminata is incorrect.

The seeds should not be allowed to dry out and sowing in the fall would imply that the seeds need to have a dormancy broken. This is not true. It would probably be true if they were allowed to dry out though.

If my last two seed trays (11/12/07) germinate as well as the previous ones I will have somewhere near fifty seedlings of this tree. This is from fresh, self-collected seed. Seeds were green, well cleaned, and sown indoors at around seventy degrees. They do give relatively low germination compared to Baobabs/palms/etc. :) , but other than the stained fingers from cleaning I would rate this tree as easy from seed. Probably too easy. I hope that it doesn't become noxious.


Positive jcalder On Nov 9, 2007, jcalder from Bowling Green, OH wrote:

I'd like to add something personal to the lore about this tree/plant. One of its derivatives used in the treatment of cancer is CPT-111. It is currently a major ingredient in the arsenal against a brain tumor a family member has and it has proved very effective in reducing it. So, the Happy Tree deserves its reputation.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama
Jacksonville, Florida
Sulphur, Louisiana
Wilmington, North Carolina
Spring, Texas

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