Here is an attractive Chinese native related to the Tupelo family of trees (Nyssa). It is commonly called False tupelo, or Camptotheca acuminata. It is a lovely medium to large tree that is an excellent choice for a fast growing shade tree in warm regions. And it would be a particularly good choice on new lots where a leafy ornamental would be so appreciated. The lush, rich green leaves with deep veining are oval shaped with an elegant taper. They are slightly toothed and emerge with a red blush in spring. False tupelo bears large quantities of ball-shaped clusters of white flowers in summer followed by unique seed clusters that resemble a miniature bunch of bananas.

It has been long used in traditional Chinese medicine, and interestingly, all parts of this handsome tree have demonstrated some ability to treat various types of cancer.

It grows super-fast in warm, humid areas, such as the American Gulf Coast and can even be pollarded, or chopped back severely to resprout more lushly than before. It does not like to dry out but with plenty of water and heat and sun, you will have a first-rate shade tree 3 to 5 years.

In Chinese, its name translates as “Happy Tree”, but this Happy tree will not be found in average nurseries but more likely in the specialty mail-order nurseries.


False tupelo

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