Cupaniopsis anacardiodes carrotwood tree

Carrotwood

Cupaniopsis anacardioides

  • Other common names include Tuckeroo, Beach Tamarind and Green-Leaved Tamarind
  • Uniquely shaped evergreen shade tree
  • Provides year-round shade and privacy
  • Unique branch pattern resembles the carrot-top of its namesake
  • Extremely hardy and does very well in Houston’s climate

Carrotwood, is a medium-sized tree that looks right at home whether used as an attractive ornamental tree or as a street tree. It can grow a wide, dense, evergreen canopy that brings an attractive and scenic look to any type of landscape. Carrotwood is native to Australia and tolerates seacoast conditions, heat, drought, and poor soil. Its neat appearance makes it an excellent choice for homeowners in the Southwest looking to adorn their property with a beautiful tree.

Available as a single trunk or multi-trunk tree, the Carrotwood is sure to add a picturesque look to any garden and home. Landscape designers rave about this well-behaved tree. Homeowners with young families will love specimen trees to attach a tire swing or build a tree house in it. People will love picnicking outdoors under the generous shade provided by the wide canopy. Moon Valley Nurseries sells both single and multi-trunk varieties that are healthy and vibrant.

The Carrotwood tree is a common sight on Southwestern landscapes due to its year-round shade. Homeowners living in tract housing will appreciate the privacy features provided by a mature Carrotwood tree. Its namesake comes from the unique branch pattern that seems to resemble a carrot top, though don’t expect any carrots! With this engaging tree, you can expect moderate to slow growth. Of course, homeowners can choose how tall or wide they want this hardy tree to grow.

Homeowners looking to add a unique evergreen tree to their landscape will appreciate the reliable, virtuous features of Cupaniopsis anacardioides. At Moon Valley Nurseries, we grow and nurture beautiful Carrotwood trees that are sure to enhance any landscape style.

Speak with one of our landscape design experts. Moon Valley Nurseries offers free design consultation services to help you plan a landscape design that will add beauty and value to your home in the Southwest. You buy it, we deliver and plant it!

Carrotwood Tree Information: Tips On Carrotwood Tree Care In Landscapes

Carrotwoods (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) are named for their bright orange wood concealed under a layer of bark. These attractive little trees fit into almost any size landscape, but are carrotwood tree roots invasive? Find out about the invasive potential of these trees as well as how to grow them in this article.

Carrotwood Tree Information

What is a carrotwood tree? Growing only 30 to 40 feet tall with a spread of twenty to thirty feet, carrotwoods are decorative little trees with a lot of potential in the home landscape. Many small trees are a disaster around patios and decks because they drop litter in the form of leaves, flowers and fruit, but carrotwoods are neat trees that don’t require constant cleanup. Their leathery, evergreen leaves create year-round interest.

That being said, in warm, moist climates such as those found in Hawaii and Florida, carrotwood trees can become an ecological disaster. They readily escape cultivation and take root in unwanted places. They don’t have the natural controls that are present in their native Australia and New Guinea regions, so they spread to crowd out native species. Before planting a carrotwood tree, consult your local Cooperative Extension agent about the tree’s invasive potential in your area.

How to Plant Carrotwood Trees

Plant carrotwood trees in a sunny location with average, moderately moist soil. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Set the tree in the hole and backfill with the soil you removed from the hole.

It’s a good idea to fill the hole with water when it’s half full of soil to allow any air pockets to settle, and then continue to backfill until the soil in the hole is level with the surrounding soil. Don’t mound the excess soil around the base of the tree. Once the hole is full, press down gently with your foot.

Carrotwood Tree Care

This lovely little tree looks light and airy and makes a well-behaved street tree. It’s right at home growing in the lawn as a specimen or providing light shade for a patio. Slow growth and limited size means that it won’t take over small yards.

The tree is undemanding, and nothing could be easier than carrotwood tree care. Newly planted trees need weekly watering in the absence of rain until they become established. Once they are growing on their own, they only need water during prolonged drought.

They don’t usually need fertilizer, but if you feel that your tree isn’t growing as it should, sprinkle a little complete and balanced fertilizer around the root zone.

You can grow a carrotwood tree as a single-trunked specimen or with multiple trunks. More trunks means a wider spread, so allow room for it to grow. Creating a single-trunked tree is simply a matter of removing unwanted stems.

In the past, I worked for a local tree farm specializing in top quality field grown shade trees. The majority of trees we sold were single trunk trees, but a portion of them were grown as multi-trunk trees. I have been asked many times, “Which is better?”
The answer to the question is pure opinion since both types will survive for many years and each requires similar attention and care. So here is how each compare in certain factors:
Aesthetics: Single trunks are traditional and what most envision in a domestic yard or park environment. Multi-trunk trees have a more “wild” or “natural” look since this style is common in the woods or forests. Since they are different trees, multi-trunks of the same species may even have different appearances due to unique genetics.
Structure: Singles are straight forward. Most have a main “leader” trunk with side branching. Multi-trunk trees are a bit different since each trunk is a seperate tree grown from a different seed. As the trees get larger the trunks often fuse together (called grafting) and look more like a tree with low branch structures. If you were to cut these down they would show multiple sets of growth rings confirming seperate trees. Structurally, multi-trunks are weaker only because the trunks often lean away from one another. The canopies most often lean as well, which can result in a strange shape should one of the trunks be lost, resulting in “half tree” scenario. This leaning often results in a tree that is wider than it is tall. If selecting multi-trunks for planting, pick trees where each trunk is equal in size and has very little lean to it. This will result in a tree with better shape and strength. As the trees get large, consider having the tree’s trunks cabled or braced by an arborist to prevent trunk splitting and preserve the shape of the tree.
Growth: Single trunks grow at a rate determined by the species of tree and the care it gets. Multi-trunks have seperate root systems and since they are close together, they compete for nutrients. This competition results in slower growth rates. Make sure that each trunk is the same species and thus one would not outgrow the other. Since they compete, multi-trunk trees grow 30% to 50% slower than singles trunk trees of the same species. Despite a slower growth rate, these trees can still flourish with attention and care. Ensure they have adequate sun, water and nutrients and they will have no problem growing. Just consider, all things being equal, the multi-trunk trees will be a bit smaller after a given period of growth.
I have removed trees where part of the multi-trunk tree had split away and the owners said, “I wish I hadn’t planted a multi-trunk tree.” With proper care and carefully placed cables and braces, these trees will last just as long and provide their “wild” beauty as long as their single trunk versions.

Cupaniopsis anacardioides is occasionally found in disturbed sites along the central peninsula of Florida, and in Miami-Dade county. It is native to Australia but escaped cultivation. Carrotwood blooms from spring to summer.

Appearance

Slender evergreen tree, usually single-trunked, to 10 m (33 ft) tall, with dark gray outer bark and often orange inner bark.

Leaves

Alternate, once compound (usually even-pinnate), with petioles swollen at the base; 4–12 leaflets, stalked, oblong, leathery, shiny yellowish green, to 20 cm (8 in) long and 7.5 cm (3 in) wide; margins entire and tips rounded or slightly indented.

Flowers

Fruit

A short-stalked, woody capsule, to 2.2 cm (0.9 in) across, with 3 distinctly ridged segments; yellow orange when ripe, drying to brown and splitting open to expose 3 shiny oval black seeds covered by a yellow-red crust (aril).

Ecological threat

Invades spoil islands, beach dunes, marshes, tropical hammocks, pinelands, mangrove and cypress swamps, scrub habitats, and coastal strands; greatly altering understory habitat. FLEPPC Category I

Distribution

NW, NE, C, SW, SE

Text from Invasive and Non-Native Plants You Should Know, Recognition Cards, by A. Richard and V. Ramey, 2007. UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, Publ. No. SP 431.

For more information about carrotwood, download the following publications:

Excerpted from Identification & Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas, by K.A. Langeland and K. Burks

Video Transcript

Carrotwood – Cupaniopsis anacardioides
Hi, I’m Ken Langeland, Professor of Agronomy, at the University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. We’re here today, in Sarasota, Florida, to talk about the invasive tree, carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardioides). It’s an invasive tree in Florida. It occurs mainly in south central Florida and down through the southern part of the state. It was placed on the Florida Noxious Weed List in 1999, which makes it illegal to introduce, possess, transport, or sell in the state. Now let’s look at some of the details. Carrotwood is an evergreen tree that can be either single-trunk or multi-trunk. The outer bark is dark gray and smooth. The tree is called carrotwood because it often has orange-colored inner bark. Carrotwood leaves are compound and alternate; and usually even pinnate, but they can also be odd pinnate. The petioles (or leaf stalks) are swollen at the base. The compound leaves are made up of 4 to 12 stalked leaflets that are oblong, leathery, glossy, and yellowish-green. The leaves measure up to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide; and have smooth margins and tips that are rounded or slightly indented. Numerous white to greenish-yellow flowers occur in branched clusters of 14 inches long, from late January to March, depending on the weather. Fruit are the most striking identifying characteristic, being a short-stalked, woody capsule up to 1 inch across; with distinctly ridged segments that are yellow-orange when ripe, in April or May. The capsules split open to expose three shiny, oval, black seeds peeking out of a yellow-to-red fleshy sleeve that will later turn brown. One of the big problems with natural areas is that fish crows feed on the seeds and disperse them. They feed on the trees in urban areas; and then they come out and they roost on these coastal islands, and they carry seeds out here with them. These are the Edwards Islands, in Roberts Bay. This is actually one of the first places we found carrotwood escaping from cultivation and becoming invasive. Even though carrotwood was placed on the Florida Noxious Weed List, there are still numerous plants in landscapes and urban plantings. So to help protect natural areas, what we really need to do is learn how to identify this plant when we see it in our landscape; and remove it.

View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.

Citations

1. Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition,
by K.A. Langeland, H.M. Cherry, et al. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 257. 2008.

3. Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know – Recognition Cards,
by A. Richard and V. Ramey. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 431. 2007.

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Carol Cloud Bailey: Remove carrotwood trees for safety

Dear Carol: This is one of three carrotwood trees on my property that has something going on. There are branches that are now dying high up and the leaves are very sparse. If you can help identify this for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

— Barbara, Palm City

A.: Trees are often a topic of conversation and angst. They can be planted in the wrong place, causing problems with sidewalks and roadways or planted too close to the home or neighbor causing a mess or a feud when one person likes the tree and another doesn’t.

When it comes to a carrotwood, I am trapped in this situation. Generally, trees are good. Beautiful, well-cared-for trees are natural filters for air and groundwater. They remove carbon dioxide and pollutants from the environment. Properly placed trees help conserve energy by shading and cooling buildings in the summer and by blocking cold winds in the winter.

However, sometimes we humans cause problems with trees and that is the case with carrotwood. Native to northern and eastern Australia, carrotwood is found growing near beaches as well as in hilly locations and sandy soils. It is an evergreen with large compound leaves that have rounded leave tips. The wood is yellow to orange giving the plant its name.

It was introduced to Florida as an ornamental tree, probably early in the 1950s. However, by 1990, its escapist nature was being reported and it was labeled a weed tree. Carrotwood is now found in natural areas on both coasts from Hillsborough and Brevard counties to the southern tip of Florida. Once established in native areas, it displaces native vegetation and alters the structure of the plant community.

This fast-growing tree is known as one of Florida’s most invasive plant species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. The pest-free nature of the carrotwood contributed to its popularity and helped it spread; nothing eats it. However, it is occasionally susceptible to fungal infection, particularly if the tree is damaged.

Barbara’s trees appear to have an internal rot. This may have occurred when the tree was damaged by lightning or possibly incorrect pruning, such as hatracking, which left large, open wounds. However it started, the damage now looks to have spread throughout the tree. A consult on site by a certified arborist or horticulturist can confirm this suspicion.

I recommend the removal of these trees, both for the fact they appear unstable because of the decline and their invasive nature. It is never easy to recommend the removal of trees, but sometimes it is necessary.

Carol Cloud Bailey is a landscape counselor and horticulturist. Send questions to [email protected] or visit www.yard-doc.com for more information.

Carrotwood, Tuckeroo

The arils on the fruit are reportedly edible.

Cupaniopsis anacardioides: An Aboriginal Treat

With a nickname of Tuckeroo, you know the Carrotwood Tree has to be from Australia, and it is. What foraging books in this hemisphere won’t tell you is that part of the ripe fruit is supposedly edible. (Many thanks to Lee Etherington at the www.bushtuckershop.com for doing some original Australian research for me. Please visit their site and watch the Bushtucker Man videos.) That said, not all opinions agree on aril edibility and at least one source says the arils are not edible.

The leaves form uneven terminating pairs. Photo by Green Deane

Several governmental sources in Australia say the Aboriginals did indeed eat the ripe aril, some say it is toxic. I found it nearly tastless but it burns my mouth and upsets my stomach. I’m not sure how the Aboriginals considered it a treat. Perhaps I am missing a bit of information. In Australia the tree is also called the Cupania Tree and the Beach Tamarind. Botanically it is the Cupaniopsis anacardioides (koo-pan-nee-OP-sis an-nuh-kar-dee-OP-sis )

Carrotwood fruit attracts birds. Photo by Green Deane

One can find a lot about the evergreen C. anacardioides on the internet because it is on Florida’s hit list of invasive gawd-awful weeds. (I am beginning to suspect the best place to find edibles is on your state’s official weed list.) The fruit starts out green then turns bright yellow. It’s a common tree on the east and north coasts of Australia and was imported in the 1960’s to Florida, Texas and California for landscaping. It has not become a pest in California. What caught my eye the first time I saw them was the distinctive shape of the fruit, three lobed comprised of six segments.

The tree’s status in Florida brings up several issues. You cannot own the tree without a permit, the state considers it so bad. Birds, of course, don’t apply for permits to eat the fruit. But then the political correctness kicks in. The state says there is no use for the tree. That is quite false. The wood is favored by wood turners and pricy. Seems to me cutting down the trees for turning reduces the population and generates income. The state just needs to sell the permits to harvest them.

Although called the Carrotwood Tree it wood is actually apricot to pink, close-grained and very tough. It has been used for lumber as well as turning. The tree can grow some 80 feed hight and two feet through at the butt. Locally they are half that height and 20 inches thick.

Cupaniopsis means resembling the genus Cupania (which is named for Francesco Cupani, an 18th century Italian monk and natural scientist who wrote Hortus catholicus and is famous for his work with Lathyrus odorata.) Anacardioides means resembling Anacardia (the genus name for Cashew.) Two resemblances…. they must of run out of ideas that day. Several plants are called “tuckeroo” in Australia so make sure you have the right Tucheroo, Cupaniopsis anacardioides.

One quick identification of the tree is the leaves are spatulate with a bit of an indentation at the end, and each branch ends in a pair of leaves slightly off set (whereas the Jambul tree end leaves are an equal pair.)

You can find them mid-state and south.

Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile

IDENTIFICATION: Small to medium tree to 30 feet. Leaves compound, 4-11 leaflets, glossy-green, obovate to oblong, 5-15 cm long, 2-6 cm wide, end two leaves are always form a pair. Flowers yellowish, occurring in winter. Fruit orange, 15-30 mm diameter, short-stalked, three-segmented woody capsules up to 0.9 inches across that are yellow-orange when ripen and then dry to brown before splitting open to reveal three black seeds each covered by a yellow-red crust.

TIME OF YEAR: Flowers in Florida in late winter or early spring, January and February, with fruits maturingin April and May depending upon location, sooner farther south, later farther north.

ENVIRONMENT:Spoil islands, beach dunes, marshes, tropical hammocks, pine lands, mangrove and cypress swamps, scrub habitats, and coastal strands.

METHOD OF PREPARATION: Ripe aril eaten raw, not the seeds, not the pulp. I know one source says the arils are not edible. I don’t eat them.

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