Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Indian Rosewood
Dalbergia sissoo

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Dalbergia (dal-BERG-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: sissoo

2 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

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3 positives
2 neutrals
10 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative gravymeister On Oct 15, 2013, gravymeister wrote:

The earlier comments reflect my experience.
I also had many large birds roosting in the tree through the summer.
I had the sissoo removed, and dug out the stump, and dug out a half-dozen roots the size of my arm, some 25-30' long.
For six months I killed roots and new shoots.
Here's how:
Drill 1" diameter holes every 3 feet halfway through the roots.
Pour Roundup concentrate (undiluted) into the holes.
Every week, drench the new shoots with Roundup mixed for mature weeds.
I removed about 50 pavers, chopped out roots, and replaced the pavers.
Be patient.

Negative tgunsch On Aug 30, 2013, tgunsch from Yuma, AZ wrote:

When we built our house 10 years ago we asked our landscaper for a big leafy tree for the centerpiece of our large yard. We wanted a tree that would stay green all year and have minimum leaf dropage. He suggested a Sisso tree and after looking at one at the nursery we agreed. The tree grew fast and we immediatly realized that there was considerable leaf dropage although the tree did remain green all year. At first we were able to forgive the leaf mess since the tree was so beautiful. The tree grew unbelievably fast and after 8 years cleaning up after it became a nightmare. The final straw was when the concrete deck around the pool 30 feet away started heaving and we were told the giant root doing the damage was from the sisso. Although heartbreaking, we made the decision to have the majestic tree removed. After having the tree professionally removed and the stump ground and roots removed (we thought) the real nightmare started. Weeks afterwards little Sissos started popping up all over the yard, some hundreds of feet from where the tree was! These saplings weren't from seeds but from little roots that had invaded every section of my huge yard even dry areas while the tree was still growing. It has now been eight months and still every day new little Sissos are popping up. The roots wont die! I have pulled them, poisoned them and now most recently have my entire yard potholed trying to pull up all of the roots. I looked over the wall into my neighbor's desert landscape this morning to see one invading his waterless garden over 150 feet from where the tree was. One interesting note is that most of the plants in my yard had been struggling for years, and since removing the Sisso they all seem to be flourishing. The Sisso had been stealing their water all this time unbeknownst to me. I hate this tree and I would never buy a house with one in it or even next door. EVIL, EVIL tree!!!

Negative ihatesissoo On Aug 12, 2013, ihatesissoo from Peoria, AZ wrote:

The 2 Sissoo trees we planted are very pretty BUT like everyone else has mentioned with a negative response they are a nightmare!! DO NOT PLANT unless you have an acre lot. Even beware with that. Had I known about the invasive root system and suckers we never would have planted them. So now 5 years after being planted, they are 20-25 feet tall, roots are all through our grass lawn, the roots are uplifting our pavers, and the suckers are everywhere!!! At first, we cut roots that were going through the grass and suckers came up everywhere along the root - like a forest - so we ripped up the roots through the grass. Several landscapers told us to remove them. So after paying for landscaping 5 years ago, we now have to pay more money to fix pavers, remove trees, and re-do the lawn. Only to have to deal with the sucker issue even when they are gone. There goes our shade and money! Please people do not plant this tree. They are nice shade trees but not worth the added cost or headache.

Negative AKinChandler On Jul 18, 2013, AKinChandler from Chandler, AZ wrote:

Like others, I wanted a relatively fast growing shade tree in AZ. I specifically asked for a tree without an invasive root system and one that would not make a mess. Our landscaper recommended the Sissoo. That landscaper better hope I never catch him in a dark alley. I hate this tree. The first one they planted actually died. I should have picked a different tree. Without knowing how bad the tree was I went with another Sissoo. The second one got big quick. In just a couple of years the trunk was 10 inches in diameter and the tree was 25-30 feet tall. Early on a couple of suckers would come up but they seemed easy to control. Then the suckers started popping up in the rock around the grass area where the tree was planted. It was removed a couple of years ago. Instead of stump grinding I had the removal guys dig out the root ball and trace all the roots they could find. I am still fighting off suckers every week. Each week it seems like there are more of them. Even when I stopped watering the grass they still came up. The roots that didn't get pulled in the removal process are still growing and getting larger in diameter. I pulled out 10 feet of root the other day and there are still suckers coming up in that area. If I were considering buying the perfect house and this tree was in the yard, or even in a neighbor's yard, it would be reason enough not to buy the house. This tree is that bad.

Negative Dianne29 On Jul 7, 2013, Dianne29 from Desoto Lakes, FL wrote:

A beautiful-looking tree but beneath it's magnificent exterior lies a menacing and invasive species that I would NEVER recommend, at least not in Florida! The root system is incredible, wrapping throughout my front yard, under my house and into the back yard. I really have no idea to what extent the damage may be under my slab and into my pipes. The tree is probably 25 years old (as I have been in the house for 19) and it drops all its leaves at least once a year. Heaven forbid it starts to leaf and a cold spell hits because hear we go again. It is both male and female, I fear, because it flowers and then it drop stamins or some such thing EVERYWHERE twice a year. I call it "the tree from hell." It sucks all the water out of all the plants around it and makes it nearly impossible to garden because everywhere you dig, there's a root the size of your thigh. I hate this tree. I had two but in 2001 one was knocked over by a tropical storm on September 14 and it took at least three years and a couple of extra stump grindings to get rid of it. Suckers still come up but I'm not sure from which tree. Brother! It's one of the trees where no permit is required to remove it. I guess the state just want them gone, as well.

Negative Tasha2013 On Jun 13, 2013, Tasha2013 from Chandler, AZ wrote:

i also am in the camp of hating this tree! Had one planted (at advice of nursery). Wanted low litter, desert adapted fast growing shade. Well I got that and so much more. After 10 yrs and 10K damage...roots grew into water main, under sidewalks, under driveway, had the 35 ft tree cut down and stump ground last fall. Now I have suckers coming up all over the place. Had the stump reground on Memorial day and it seems like that just stimulated more growth everywhere else! HELP!! How do I get rid of these roots? It is a grass yard so it does get water. Anyone who has started this process over the years please advise.
Frustrated in Chandler!

Negative nogottarancho On Oct 28, 2012, nogottarancho from Maricopa, AZ wrote:

planted 5 and took 3 out and neglected other two

now suckering up thru my ash tree saucer and growing like a weed. almost 20 feet away.

the neglected two remained green and lush little bushes and could not figure it out as I did not water during summer.

woe is me, my septic is across the drive way. would not reco unless large lot and your only tree.

Neutral BookLee On Apr 30, 2012, BookLee from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Help!!!!Just Purchased An Indian Rosewood Tree. I was going to plant it by our pool and pool pump. After reading the negatives I wonder if this is wise? The tree is about 12 feet and has a narrow circumference. Will it be invasive to the electrical and pool plumbing?

Positive elissajk On Jun 1, 2011, elissajk from Litchfield Park, AZ wrote:

We have 4 of these gorgeous trees in our backyard. My favorite things about them are how quickly they grow, and how the wind blows through the leaves. It sounds similar to a bunch of pine trees in the forrest, and I love so much to sit under the thick shade of one and listen to the sound. Now they absolutely do require pruning and staking, so they are not a no maintenance tree. After about the 4th-5th year, they do create a more than what I would call "low" litter, but definitely less than many other popular trees here in AZ, and definitely not high or even moderate litter. After last winter's big freeze, ours lost most of their leaves, but typically in this area, they keep them all year. Like all hearty big trees, you must not plant them very close to walls, concrete, patios, houses, and other structures as a precaution. Trees this large do need a big root system. I also would advise to clean up after their seed pods to avoid saplings, as with all big trees.

Negative NUMBSKULL On Sep 22, 2010, NUMBSKULL from Glendale, AZ wrote:

Be forewarned of what you're getting yourself into. They are so beautiful and fast growing when they are young, but when you reach the 6th & 7th year - you are in for a constant mess, especially in the winter. I was heartbroken to have to take them out. After removing 15 of these trees off my entire property in Feb 2010, I am still paying the price physically & financially in Sept 2010 of trying to rid all the new saplings that are popping up everywhere. While the trunks are dead, the roots are not. It won't stop, no matter what we do. We've pulled every imaginable root and have to rip up our lawn again. We have poisoned these things to death at the trunk numerous numerous times, and have sprayed, pulled, cussed at every new tree root popping out of the ground. It has destroyed pavers, and after comparing notes with several several people, they have had water lines busted, concrete busted, lawns ruined, plants ruined. I was given wrong information from beginning to end from numerous sources. This is probably going to destroy many yards & marriages all over Arizona in the coming years.

Negative Fedup On Nov 14, 2009, Fedup from Peoria, AZ wrote:

I have 2 seven year old Sissoo's in my backyard that I must sadly remove. These are beautiful trees which I decided to purchase after doing extensive research. I asked the largest tree nursery in AZ (they planted the trees) for advice and they didn't tell me that these trees will take over everything in its path. They never said that they would be a problem where they were planted. These trees are wolves in sheep's clothing.

The tree that's closest to the grass lawn is extremely invasive. I've removed roots and saplings from areas 35 ft away from the base of the tree. I've torn up my lawn several times removing the roots. It seems to suck whatever water is around because my lawn and plants in the tree's vicinity are all languishing.

The other tree is further away from the lawn but has large roots that are on the surface of the soil and are in close proximity to my sidewalk, air conditioner and house foundation.

It's such a shame, because I've wasted money purchasing and having the wrong trees planted, 7 years of watering, killing my other plants in their general area, having to spend money trying to get rid of these trees and worst of all having to start over from scratch. The most important thing in AZ, when it comes to landscaping, is to plant trees on the south & west sides of your property to shade your house and yard from our harsh summer sun.

Unless you have a yard that is 80 ft. deep by 80 ft. wide, with nothing else in the area, then a Sissoo could work. But if not, then don't chance it. There's got to be other trees more desirable. If anyone has any honest advice on what shade trees would be recommended for a yard with a lawn, a pool and other landscape plants, please let me know. I'm desperate for some good advice.

Negative sckufusrnms On Oct 31, 2009, sckufusrnms from Peoria, AZ wrote:

After having searched the Web high and low for the cons and/or disadvantages of Dalbergia sissoo trees, I must say I'm flabbergasted that the majority of information I have found is nothing but positive. Why? Because my experience with this tree has been an absolute nightmare, and I would never recommend it to anyone.

I had never heard of the sissoo tree until I purchased a 10-year-old home with a tall, obviously established one in its back yard. On the walk-through, about 24 feet away from the gargantuan beast, I noticed what appeared to be a small plant or weed in a corner of the yard, and asked about it. "That's just a sapling from the tree," I was told by a Realtor. "Don't worry about it."

A few weeks later, after moving into the home, the sapling had grown to more than four feet tall. I wondered how, in a Phoenix-metro suburb in late May, anything could grow so fast without water (the sprinkler system was broken) or special treatment. I also wondered how the tree had managed to produce the obviously "teenaged" one in the corner along with a "day-care class full" number of even younger siblings -- in the form of several saplings dotting the back yard and the front yard landscape as well -- without water or nourishment, and how these younger versions of the bohemoth "parent" not only managed to keep growing but also to multiply, reproducing a veritable litter of potential adult sissoos.

Presumably, people are posting that they fear killing these trees, but from what I have seen and experienced, nothing can kill the sissoo. By late July/early August, the "sapling" I was told not to "worry about" was at least six feet tall and filled with lush green leaves. Yet the sprinkler system was still broken. I noticed a long crack in the concrete of the back yard patio that appeared to have been caused by at least one root of the original monstrosity, evidenced by the way in which one part of a root abutted the patio's concrete edge while another part chose its own path underneath the patio toward the house.

Since moving in, I had been following the saplings on an almost daily basis in an attempt to keep them at bay. It wasn't until I began to notice cracks in the exterior of the home's foundation that it dawned on me that in a few instances each crack, like the one in the patio, was abutted by at least one large, long, thick root of the sissoo tree.

Why the tree encroached as it did, I don't know. What I did know was that, unlike the home's original and second owners, I would do whatever necessary to get rid of "the tree of one-hundred-thousand roots" and save the house.

I have had the same tree removal service here three times since September 2008, but the saplings reveal their faces again and again. I have spent a great number of hours digging, cutting, sawing, breaking, snapping, chipping, and pouring, and just when I think it's over, through the plastic (unless I have simply cut it away) just under the gravel used in the desert landscaping, I'll spy the faintest outline of part of a root, a root that turns out to be a foot in diameter and who-knows-what-length since the root has burrowed deep into the ground. The tree service, me and the chemicals have been battling the roots of this sissoo for so long unsuccessfully that I'm beginning to think this sissoo is unlike any other species about which I have read.

Most recently, I hired yet another tree removal company, one I worked with in the past at my former home that was easily able to, using a backhoe, remove plants with tremendously long roots, killing them. I'm fairly certain the plants were permanently removed because five years later, no sign of them. Yet this company, which didn't use a backhoe but a stump grinder, managed to, unlike the previous company (which continues to advertise that it not only does tree removal but also stump grinding) actually grind the original stump to a point at which it disappeared or at least must be extremely deep below the ground. The first company merely "sheered", very lightly, a small portion of the stump, leaving behind most of the fat, long octopus-type roots growing from around the stump as if it were the center of a carousel and the roots, some as long as 12 feet, the carousel animals. I was told the same thing by the tree company I used this time as the prior tree company told me: "The tree is dead now and gone. You won't see anymore roots."

Last night, however, my dog, never one to dig, had apparently decided "enough is enough" when it came to competing for my attention over the last eight months with this "tree from hell", and dug a perfect hole exactly where there were more roots, apparently long and thick and either burrowing deeply into the ground or growing under the wall between my house and one of the neighbors behind me. This morning, after I took photos (the dog is better at finding roots and getting rid of them than the men with the professional tree removal service companies?) of the hole and the dog by the hole, I looked more closely into the hole, seeing that there was some wetness by one of the roots.

So, although I had hoped and prayed I would never have to deal with this tree again (yet knowing it was one of my many crosses to bear), I began to dig. In spite of exhaustion, frustration and anger at this monstrosity defined as a "tree" that is more like an oat cell cancer, at the continued life-sucking and foundation hugging by each remaining root after God only knows how many months, hours, minutes and seconds I have spent digging, each day a little bit at a time, at the tree companies' failure to pay attention to me when I tell them about the tree's behavior, and, despite being paid $150 extra, at the employees' failure to perform even the slightest amount of physical work possible, such as digging (even when the temperatures are in the 60s and 70s).

So here I am, $650 in the hole with "roots" of this living oat cell cancer known as a Dalbergia sissoo still in my back yard and still refusing to die. I have cut off water to it but still am removing excessively long skinny wet roots along with huge tree-trunk-size roots.

While it seems that I will never be able to get rid of each root of the tree, at least I know that no tree company can do so either, so I won't waste any more money on these companies. However, I don't want to spend the rest of my life digging, so perhaps my best bet at this point is to contact my homeowner's insurance company and ask them for advice.

I know from searching online over the past several months that the tree should never have been planted by the former owners of this home. Just as a root from one of the three sissoos in my former neighbor's yard had pushed up the concrete wall between her home and the home on the other side of her so that she had to pay to replace the entire wall, gates, and so on (and yet two sissoos remain in that yard), roots in my yard could be anxious to get rid of the wall that divides me from the neighbors behind me.

While I found information on this tree online, until recently I found it to be unrealistic because it seemed to exclude the "negatives" of these trees.

The tree is described as having " ... a long taproot and an extensive lateral root system, often at the soil surface and producing suckers (PIER, 2006)." Apparently, that sissoos are spreading throughout Arizona must be a secret, because according to the site, the tree is "... known to be invasive in Australia and in Florida (U.S.)"

Because of the tree's "aggressive root system", according to the Global Invasive Species Database website, it is ".. prone to suckering" and thus "... is commonly used for erosion control and soil stabilization along stream and river banks (ICRAF, undated)."

In my opinion, the damage, headaches, and cost of dealing with the cons of this tree far outweigh its pros, at least here in the desert, of being fast growing and providing a lot of shade. Surely there are other trees one can choose from, ones that did not make it to the Global Invasive Species Database.

Positive slatwood On Jul 15, 2008, slatwood from Sun City, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Some very good descriptions precede mine, including the morning fragrance of the inconspicuous white blossoms. But I'd like to add that I spent several years in the nursery trade - grown too fast (pushed with fertilizer, warmed in winter, etc.) the wood is brittle. Grown as a landscape tree, it is as sturdy as any Elm, perhaps more so. Has shown more wind and weight resistance than Ficus nitida. There are several around town that have never succumbed to high winds. In particular, there's one on the Glendale CC Campus, over 40 years old, huge -- never split nor broke and has been through 40 years of monsoons. Also, in our climate it is usually evergreen; 2 years ago temps of 24 degrees two nights in a row, took about 1/2 the foliage. Fastest growing broad-leafed shade tree for the desert.

Neutral MotherNature4 On Aug 25, 2005, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a graceful tree, but as stated above, it is quite brittle. The hurricanes did remove a lot of them for us, but not enough. It is listed as a Category II Invasive Exotic in central and south Florida.

Positive arielsadmirer On Feb 3, 2005, arielsadmirer from Margate, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This tree makes a handsome specimen. It is easily grown, semi-evergeen and has delicate, oval-pointed leaves. Rosewood makes an excellent light, filtered shade. The leaves dance easily in any breeze. Flowers are very inconspicuous, but very fragrant and white. They are followed Slender, flat, brown seed pods.

Rosewood is a prized wood for cabinet makers. Many are grown for lumber or veneer. Though the wood of this tree is beautiful, it can be very brittle. If you live in an area prone to wind storms, proper early training and pruning, can help ensure wind resistance. This is one of the trees that didn't make it after our recent hurricanes.

Roots can be a nuisance if planted to close to hardscape. They can lift sidewalks and the like.


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

Chandler, Arizona
Glendale, Arizona
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Litchfield Park, Arizona
Peoria, Arizona (3 reports)
Phoenix, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Sun City, Arizona
Yuma, Arizona
Bartow, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Ainaloa, Hawaii
Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii

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