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PlantFiles: Monkey Hand Tree, Hand Plant, Devil's Hand, Mexican Hand Tree
Chiranthodendron pentadactylon

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Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Chiranthodendron (chir-anth-oh-DEN-dron) (Info)
Species: pentadactylon

Synonym:Cheirostemon apetalum
Synonym:Cheirostemon platanoides
Synonym:Chiranthodendron platanoides

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Trees
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

Hardiness:
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

Danger:
N/A

Bloom Color:
Red

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Foliage:
Evergreen

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 32 photos.
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Profile:

8 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive baiissatva On May 11, 2012, baiissatva from Dunedin
New Zealand wrote:

Zone 9, coastal Otago, New Zealand.

Just a quick comment for those curious about it's hardiness- about 2 years ago I planted a 2-foot high specimen in a relatively sheltered position, receiving a little shade in summer and around half-day shade in winter. It is a free-draining, somewhat dry site with fairly crappy soil.
It's now about 6 feet tall and beginning to power away, putting on canopy and looks set to really get going next summer. It gets no extra water or feeding, in fact, no attention at all! To me it seems to grow slowly throughout the year, with the most growth coming late summer/autumn.

For climate context, we are sea-side, with good humidity. We get the occasional mild frost but the ground never freezes, brief snow, some hail, wet winters, dry summers. Probably in between the south-west of England/Ireland and southern California. I could grow avocados, but not things like paw-paws or tamarillos without cover.

This small specimen has never looked bothered or checked by our conditions. I'm sure it would probably be faster somewhere warmer, but it's by no means struggling, and I'd call it's rate of growth reasonable, especially given it's complete neglect. I would encourage people who think they may be too cold to have a go with this species- Im sure it could tolerate a zone 8 given some sort of consideration, maybe some frost cloth when it's small.

Hope that helps.

Zone 9b, Coastal Otago, New Zealand.
I believe this is the NZ Jury hybrid 'Vulcan' which is a small-medium tree with intensely wine coloured upright goblet-style sweetly scented blooms. Here it blooms in very early spring, and is in full swing as I write, mid September.
This has got to be one of the outstanding dark hybrids of the last 20 years, serving as parent stock to many new varieties, down here at least, and if you grow it, youll know why. Mine has gone from half a metre to a good three in around 5 years, in indifferent conditions with no special treatment. Has flowered from year one.
It is reliably covered in thick, suede-y wine pink blooms that are highly fragrant, followed by pleasingly tough and shiny leaves. It has a sturdy upright form, a mini-tree rather than a shrub, and I cant recommend it highly enough. If you only have room for one smaller mag, this has got to be a contender- I cant say a bad word about it. Im also growing the variety 'Shirazz', of which Vulcan is a parent; it looks another beauty with slightly more open flowers with a whiter margin to the petals.
Just a note on mag cultivation- I grow my magnolias in rubbishy heavy yellow volcanic clay on a seaside hill, and have found that none of the various cultivars and species have objected to this treatment. They get good drainage and wind shelter from my other plantings but the soil is pretty poor, with only a thin top layer of leaf mold, so dont be discouraged if you dont have the rich loam so often prescribed for mags. Lets face it, who does?? Be brave and plants heaps of them!

The Blackthorn Orphans.com

Positive hothouse_flower On Jan 4, 2012, hothouse_flower from Aptos, CA wrote:

writterkat-there is NEVER a good time to top a tree!!! you basically want to cut it in half- its not a perennial- have it PROFFESIONALLY pruned and every few years

Positive eliasastro On Sep 11, 2011, eliasastro from Athens
Greece (Zone 10a) wrote:

After germinating and growing this plant for a year i've found that it is not exclusively a cool grower, so it can be cultivated even in areas with warmer summers than of coastal California where it thrives. Scarification of the seeds is necessary to achieve high germination rates. I've posted a photo in the gallery of the plant here with photographic details.

Positive writterkat On Jun 27, 2011, writterkat from Orange, CA wrote:

Hi everyone, Im new to this site but I hope you can help me with some information on the Chiranthodendron pentadactylon tree! I bought this tree when it was only a foot tall because I loved the pictures of the blooms; it has now grown to twenty feet high in one and a half years. I would like to top it off so it grows no higher than ten to twelve feet. Is there a best time and way to do this so I don't hurt it? I will say I think this tree seems to be indestructible and I am amazed at how fast it has grown. I also would like to know when they usual bloom for the first time.
Thank you.

Positive morrishay On Aug 26, 2007, morrishay from Porirua
New Zealand wrote:

I LIVE IN PLIMMERTON, PORIRUA, NEW ZEALAND AND ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO THE MONKEYHAND TREE I HAD BLEW DOWN IN A STORM. I COLLECTED ALL THE SEED PODS AND ABOUT TWO YEARS AGE I DECIDED TO HAVE A GO AT PROPIGATING THEM. I PUT ABOUT THIRTY SEEDS STRIGHT OUT OF THE PODS IN A TRAY OF SEED RAISING MIX AND LEFT THEM OUTSIDE AFTER ABOUT THREE MONTHS ABOUT 25% OF THEM SPROUTED THEY ARE BETWEEN FOUR AND NINE FEET TALL NOW AND DOING WELL. TO OPEN THE PODS I PUT THEM IN A VICE AND FORCED THEM OPEN WITH A SCREWDRIVER WE GET VERY LITTLE FROST HERE AND THE TREES ARE ON THE HILLSIDE FACING THE SEA

Neutral RickVaness On May 30, 2007, RickVaness from Oakland, CA wrote:

My son just brought this Monkey Hand tree flower home from SF Botanical garden and I'd like to know what is the best way to plant it if possible at all (please see uploaded picture above).

Thanks,

Rick

Positive chriscontreras On May 23, 2006, chriscontreras from San Diego, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

I am so glad you posted the above regarding the propagation from seed as I have some of these seeds and have been trying to find information regarding that subject. I just got the seeds this past weekend. They are black. I will try your instructions on the refrigeration then boiling water etc. The seeds are relatively small and scoring them or sanding them seems like it might be a difficult task. But I will see what I can do. Having to cool them in the fridge for 3 months seems like something I might not have the patience for but I will try it out. I am real anxious to grow this tree.
7/22/06-Since the above posting by me, I have been able to germinate one so far and have posted a picture of it. It is still just a little baby in a teeny tiny pot. I have also purchase a 15 gal Chiranthodendron Pentadactylon from a local nursery that was going out of business and anyone interested, they may still be open and have a couple more examples left for sale.

Positive Piwi On May 23, 2006, Piwi from Auckland
New Zealand wrote:

My location is Auckland, New Zealand.
There has been a Mexican Handflower Tree growing on my property for about 15 years.
The tree is growing in clay - there is very little top soil here where the climate is subtropical. We seldom if ever get frosts and the summer temperature does not normally exceed mid to low thirties centigrade (mid eighties farenheit).
The tree is growing in the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges where the annual rainfall is 2000mm (80 inches).

The tree produced seed pods for the first time this year in summer. It is now the end of May and we are approaching mid-winter. The pods are still in place on the tree although we have removed a few upon which to experiment. Most of the summer's pods have not burst open although we did find one open - it may have been one from last year that we didn't see.

When we managed to open a pod by heating it in the oven and thereby softening it, the seeds appeared to be immature and pale in colour. Other Mexican Handflower trees have been grown on the Coromandel Peninsula a few hours drive from here. They produced pods from which the seeds were obtained. Those seeds were black in colour.

We have been unsuccessful in propogating the black seeds that we were given. However, our research has uncovered the following:

"The seeds are hard to break from their dormancy and need 3 months or so in the refridgerator at a temperature of 5 degrees centigrade. They then need to be immersed in near boiling water, 80 to 95 degree centigrade and left to soak for 12 to 24 hours while the water cools. The seeds then need to be scarified (lightly sanded or scraped to soften the outer coating)".

We have yet to try all this so watch this space.

Does anyone else have any information on how to propagate the seeds from the Handflower Tree (Chirantodendron pentadactylon)?

Has anyone had any success in taking cuttings from the tree?
Ours failed.


Positive never2green On Feb 26, 2006, never2green from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

I have a Monkey Hand Tree in my backyard that is about 60 years old and stands 40+ feet tall. I am in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles, CA. The tree is healthy even though it has had some heavy pruning where it extends over my neighbors properties. Although it drops seed pods every spring, it has never propagated in the 37 years that I've owned it. The flowers are extremely striking and look more like a "devil's hand" than a "monkey's hand". It does seem to be producing less flowers than it did when it was younger. The flowers have a double row of yellow pollen on the back of each finger of the scarlet hand. Perhaps it needs cross pollenization from similar trees in order to propagate. The tree was imported by the Paul Howard Nursery in the late 40's and there is, or was, another tree at UCLA.

Neutral PotEmUp On May 29, 2004, PotEmUp from Fremont, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Chiranthodendron is Greek for "Tree with a hand-shaped flower." Pentadactylon is Greek for "5-fingered." Rare tree, even in it's native Mexico and Guatemala. It is reported to tolerate light frost. It should be grown in full sun, in a well drained location.

Regional...

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

,
Green Valley, Arizona
Fremont, California
Hayward, California
Los Angeles, California
Orange, California
San Diego, California
San Leandro, California



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