Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Aden Apple, Portia Tree, Indian Tulip Tree
Thespesia populnea

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Thespesia (thess-PEE-zee-uh) (Info)
Species: populnea (pop-ULL-nee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Hibiscus bacciferus
Synonym:Hibiscus populneus
Synonym:Hibiscus populneoides
Synonym:Malvaviscus populneus

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

Unknown - Tell us

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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By Chamma
Thumbnail #1 of Thespesia populnea by Chamma

By Chamma
Thumbnail #2 of Thespesia populnea by Chamma

By Monocromatico
Thumbnail #3 of Thespesia populnea by Monocromatico

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There are a total of 10 photos.
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3 positives
No neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Plant_Man_28 On Nov 26, 2008, Plant_Man_28 from Saint Augustine, FL wrote:

I planted thespesia from seed in 2003 thinking it was baby hawiian woodrose, they mislabled the seed and I didn't know what it was. Anyways I stuck with the plant and kept repotting it year after year and this plant does grow fairly quickly for a tree!
I planted it in the ground summer 2007, by then it was about 3 feet tall. This is the first summer it has flowered. The flowers are like small Hibiscus, they start out yellow and change color to pinkish orange before they die. All in all it is a beautiful tree and is growing like crazy this past summer . It is now around 7 feet tall and has a nice trunk 3 1/2 inch diameter. Nice round canopy. It's deciduous in winter. Has survived 27 degrees with just tip die back but it sure bounced back this past summer doubling its size in 6 months. I'm fortunate to have this tree, Ive never seen any like it around here....

Positive DawnRain On Dec 23, 2004, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

I am in mid central Florida, well away from coasts or swamps, with the exception of being flooded for weeks this year due to heavy rains and hurricanes. My plant is 3 years old, kept pruned to about 5ft, it is very ful and beautiful. I love the blooms. While I will not go against those knowledgable that have made it a #1 invasive and will not trade it with anyone, my own plant has not spread itself anywhere. In two years of blooming, it is still the only one of its kind around here. I would hate to give it up. DR

Negative NativePlantFan9 On Dec 22, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Aden Apple, Seaside Mahoe, Portia Tree or Indian Tulip Tree (Thespesia populnea) is very invasive in mangrove swamps, mangrove swamp edges and disturbed coastal areas in central and southern Florida, from around Brevard County on the east coast and Sarasota and near Tampa Bay on the west coast southward through the Keys. It grows as a large shrub or small to medium tree, spreading quickly and forming thickets, crowding out native species such as mangroves and forms sandy ridges in mangrove swamps and mangrove swamp edges, prohibiting the growth of mangroves and other native species and allowing other non-native invasive species to spread! It is native to the Old and New World Tropics worldwide and is widespread and invasive in central and southern Florida, the Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean. It is now listed on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's Pest Plant List Category One for it's invasiveness in coastal habitats in central and southern Florida. It is found as a weed in many tropical areas, including in Hawaii. It has beautiful, round, light yellow to yellowish flowers with a reddish and bright yellow center. Despite it's attractiveness, it is very invasive in many coastal tropical and subtropical areas, including in central and southern Florida and may area and is should not be planted in central and southern Florida, for seeds wash up on shores or are dispersed by birds and other factors, and grow quickly where they are dispersed, such as in coastal mangrove swamps and coastal disturbed habitats, spreading quickly and forming thickets crowding out native vegetation.

MORE FACTS - Widely found in many tropical and subtropical areas worldwide, especially in coastal areas such as mangrove swamps, shorelines and coastal disturbed areas and other coastal habitats. It loves salty areas such as sandy shorelines where conditions are appropriate. However, since it is invasive in many areas, in areas where it is invasive, including in my area, please DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT, even though it appears attractive!

Listed by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) as a Category One Invasive. Grows well in zones 9a through 11.

Positive Chamma On Jun 4, 2003, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a good tree for small gardens or patios. THe heart-shaped leaves are about 4 inches long. The short lived bell shapped flowers are yellow and then darken to a cinnamon color on the tree. The flowers are followed by apple-shaped fruit.


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

Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Patrick Afb, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Honaunau, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Kealakekua, Hawaii
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Vieques, Puerto Rico

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