Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Yellow Geiger, Muyuyo
Cordia lutea

Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Cordia (KOR-dee-uh) (Info)
Species: lutea (LOO-tee-uh) (Info)

2 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

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


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

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

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Cearbhaill On Jun 15, 2005, Cearbhaill from Russell, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is a lovely small tree or large shrub with interesting sandpaper leaves just like the Geiger Tree. I have seen medium growth- mine was purchased in a one gallon container in 1998 and has attained a height of eight feet with similar canopy (I am training it in a "tree form") spread in seven years.

I bought mine at Fairchild Tropical Gardens after having seen a huge specimen on the grounds there. It needs to see more use in landscapes as it does truly bloom all year long. I can't recall a time when it is not blooming and it has minimal leaf drop.

Neutral GumboLimbo On Jun 30, 2004, GumboLimbo from North Palm Beach, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Actually, the tree associated with Captain Geiger is, in fact, the Orange Geiger, Cordia sebestena. Also, in a recent lecture at a Florida Native Plant Society meeting by Roger L. Hammer (author of several Florida Keys/Everglades botanical field guides), I learned that recent anthropological digs in South Florida have provided incontrovertible proof that Cordia sebestena was present in South Florida LONG before the first European arrived here.

Cordia lutea is, however, an extremely nice flowering tree. At a young age, it blooms much more profusely and is much more densely branched than Cordia sebestena (which usually takes its time to become a full, vibrant flowering tree).

Positive LouisianaSweetPea On Jun 23, 2004, LouisianaSweetPea from Mount Hermon, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

At the end of April, 2004, I purchased a very small one-year-old tree which was only about twelve inches tall. In two month's time, the little tree has shown good growth, although it is supposed to have a Medium growth rate.

Although the Cordia lutea is usually listed for Zone 10-11, it is growing just fine here in coastal Louisiana (Zone 9a).

The striking yellow blossoms are supposed to appear in clusters on the branch tips most of the year. I do not yet know how mature the tree must be to bloom.

It is native to the northern coast of South America, Yucatan, the West Indies, and the Florida Keys (although it it is considered by most to be a native tree, most likely it was introduced).

Audubon wrote of this tree in his Ornithological Biography, Volume. II, pages 443-447, and 448, of seeing the Geiger tree in Key West in a private garden opposite a Dr. Strobel.

Historians, using Key West records, have been able to document that Dr. Strobel's neighbor was a Captain Geiger. The Cordia tree thus became part of Key's history when the tree took on the additional name of Geiger tree. Named after Captain John H. Geiger, who built his home on Whitehead Street in Key West, the name "Geiger tree" is likely of local origin inspired by Audubon's engraving of Captain Geiger's beautiful flowering Cordia tree with white-crowned pigeons sitting in the branches.

I am very pleased with this tree, and hope to acquire its close relation, Cordia sebestena, the red-flowered version.


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

Big Pine Key, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Chalmette, Louisiana
Harlingen, Texas

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