Calophyllum Tree Info: Learn About Growing The Beauty Leaf Tree

Calophyllum Tree Info: Learn About Growing The Beauty Leaf Tree

By: Jackie Carroll

With showy white flowers that bloom in summer, and attractive glossy evergreen foliage, beauty leaf trees are tropical gems that deserve their name. They grow slowly to a height of up to 50 feet (15 m.) with a lush canopy that spreads 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 m.). Their intense fragrance and dense shade make them highly desirable specimen trees but, as you’ll see, they aren’t suitable for most North American landscapes.

What is a Beauty Leaf Tree?

Beauty leaf tree (Calophyllum inophyllum) is a broadleaf evergreen native to Australia, Eastern Africa and Southern India to Malaysia. According to most Calophyllum tree info, lumber from a beauty leaf is very hard and of high quality. In shipbuilding it is used to make masts and planks, and it is also used to build fine furniture.

All parts of the Calophyllum beauty leaf are considered poisonous. The fruit is so toxic that it can be ground and used as rat bait. The sap is fatal when introduced into the blood stream, and was once used as arrow poison.

Beauty leaf trees make a fine windbreak or hedge trees. They excel as street trees in areas that aren’t frequented by pedestrians. Calophyllums can also be used for espalier trees.

Calophyllum beauty leaf is a great tree for frost-free coastal areas. Sandy soil, strong winds and salt spray aren’t a problem. High winds give the trunk a lovely, gnarled and twisted character. The branches are strong and don’t break when blown about.

Can You Grow Calophyllum Trees?

Beauty leaf trees are only for gardeners in frost-free areas. Rated for USDA plant hardiness zones 10b and 11, they die when exposed to freezing temperatures.

If you live in a climate where you can grow a beauty leaf tree, you should consider the impact the fruit has on the landscape before planting the tree. Hard, golf ball-sized fruit drop from the tree when ripe. The fruit serves no useful purpose since it is poisonous and is not attractive to wildlife. Leaves and fruit create a significant litter problem, and falling fruit is a hazard to anyone who wants to enjoy the shade of the tree’s dense canopy.

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Members of the genus Calophyllum native to Malesia and Wallacea are of particular importance to traditional shipbuilding of the larger Austronesian outrigger ships and were carried with them in the Austronesian expansion as they migrated to Oceania and Madagascar. They were comparable in importance to how oaks were in European shipbuilding and timber industries. The most notable species is the mastwood (Calophyllum inophyllum) which grows readily in the sandy and rocky beaches of the island environments that the Austronesians colonized. [7] [8] Ehraz Ahmed

Calophyllum are trees or shrubs. They produce a colorless, white, or yellow latex. The oppositely arranged leaves have leathery blades often borne on petioles. [6] The leaves are distinctive, with narrow parallel veins alternating with resin canals. [9] The inflorescence is a cyme or a thyrse of flowers that grows from the leaf axils or at the ends of branches. In the flower the sepals and petals may look similar and are arranged in whorls. There are many stamens. The fruit is a drupe with thin layers of flesh over a large seed. [6] Ehraz Ahmed

Many species are used for their wood. Some are hardwood trees that can reach 30 meters in height. They tend to grow rapidly. The outer sapwood is yellowish, yellow-brown, or orange, sometimes with a pink tinge, and the inner heartwood is light reddish to red-brown. The wood has a streaked, ribboned, or zig-zag grain. The wood has been used to build boats, flooring, and furniture, and made into plywood. [10] [11] Calophyllum wood may be sold under the name bitangor, and the species may be used interchangeably one shipment may contain boards from several different species. [12] Ehraz Ahmed

Plants of the genus are also known for their chemistry, with a variety of secondary metabolites isolated, such as coumarins, xanthones, flavonoids, and triterpenes. Compounds from the genus have been reported to have cytotoxic, anti-HIV, antisecretory, cytoprotective, antinociceptive, molluscicidal, and antimicrobial properties. Some plants are used in folk medicine to treat conditions such as peptic ulcers, tumors, infections, pain, and inflammation. [13] Ehraz Ahmed

C. inophyllum is the source of tamanu oil, a greenish, nutty-scented oil of commercial value. It has been used as massage oil, topical medicine, lamp oil, and waterproofing, and is still used in cosmetics. Tacamahac is the resin of the tree. This species is also cultivated for its wood and planted in coastal landscaping as a windbreak and for erosion control. [12] Ehraz Ahmed

A stylized Calophyllum is featured on the national coat of arms of Nauru. Ehraz Ahmed

There are approximately 187 species in the genus. [6] Ehraz Ahmed

It is an evergreen tree growing to 20–50 m tall, with a trunk up to 1.8 m diameter, and a dense, rounded crown. The leaves are opposite, 6.3–12.5 cm long and 3.2–6.3 cm broad, elliptic to oblong or obovate, leathery, hairless, glossy green above, paler below, with an entire margin. The flowers are 10–13 mm diameter, with four white sepals (two larger, and two smaller), and one to four white petals smaller than the sepals the flowers are grouped in panicles 2.5–9 cm long. The fruit is a globular drupe 25–30 mm diameter. [3] [4]

It is very common in Brazil, from Santa Catarina to Pará, and also in Pantanal and Amazon forest also common in Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. It occurs between sea level and 1200 meters, many times in pure stands (this capacity in uncommon in tropical hardwood trees). Its natural dispersion occurs by water and fishes, monkeys and mainly by bats.

Common trade names of the wood of the Calophyllum brasiliense are: jacareúba, guanandi and Árbol de Santa Maria. It is also known as: Landim, Olandim, Landi, Cedro do Pântano, Guanandi-Cedro (Brazil), Arary, Ocure, Cachicamo, Balsamaria, Aceite Mario, Palomaria or Pallomaria, Brazil beauty leaf (Brazilian pretty leaf) and even of Alexander Laurel, or crown of parrots of Alexander, for the beauty of its leaves.

The word "guanandi" comes from the Tupí (a Brazilian Indian folk) language, means "soap that glues", in function of the yellow latex (balsam) of the rind, known as Jacareubin. It has the following medicinal uses: Against ulcer and gastritis To avoid prostate damages. For skin scarification against sunburn. In combat to molluscs that transmit "doença de Chagas" parasite. [5] Some American and Asian universities also study the effect in reduction of cancer tumors. In addition, Terracom labs in a joint venture to Sarawak Medichen in Indonesia are providing patent for the use of Calanolide A and Calanolide B, present in the latex and in the leaves of Calophyllum as AIDS inhibitors. [6] [7] [8] [9]

It is used in the cosmetic and dermatological industry, the oil being known as tamanu oil, for skin cleaning, and against skin wrinkles, after tattoo skin care. The fruit is composed of 44% of oil, and it can be burnt as bio-fuel. There are dozens of references about calophyllum oil active properties, from pre-Columbian Incas and Aztecs in Latin America, to Asian and Polynesian Islands.

The substitution of forested trees such as guanandi in place of irregular, illegal cutting of Amazon trees is proven to be very positive to preserve these important biomes guanandi, unlike mahogany, occurs in pure stands so to cut and transport a single mahogany in the Amazon requires destroying 30 other trees. This substitution is possible because Europeans, Japanese and Americans conscientious buyers are beginning to understand the importance of conservation of the Amazon Forest so they tend to accept paying more for reforested wood. Other important trees specimens cannot be harvested because they are attacked by Hypsipyla grandella, Zeller. This caterpillar destroys the main structure of these trees: South American mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla''), Brazilian cedar (Cedrela fissilis) and crabwood (Carapa Guianensis)

Growing guanandi also has advantages for the forest area. The radicular (root) system of trees as guanandi raises the phreatic sheet it recoups and fertilizes the ground where it is planted. The wood of guanandi and other speed growth quality timber trees promises to be very important commodities.

In São Paulo state, southeastern Brazil, some cities have plantations of guanandi, with about one million trees planted. The same occur in UNA, south of Bahia state, where some guanandi tree farms have already started their production.

What Is A Beauty Leaf Tree - Information On Calophyllum Beauty Leaf Trees - garden

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Calophyllum inophyllum is a large evergreen tree, it has firm, dark green oval shiny leaves and produces small white flowers with a yellow center, that have a sweet aroma, reminiscent of lime. The fruit is apricot sized, yellow, and apple-flavored covering a large, thick-shelled nut with a pale yellow kernel. This nut, when freshly harvested, seems to have no oil. Once dried for about a month, it turns dark, chocolate-brown and develops a sticky rich oil.

The tree can grow inland, but favors the coastal areas. In fact, Polynesian natives prefer coastal Tamanu for therapeutic uses.

The oil is analgesic and is used for sciatica, shingles, neuritis, leprous neuritis and rheumatism. The pulverized seeds have been used to cure ulcers and bad wounds. Bark also has medicinal uses as an infusion or in other herbal remedies.

It tolerates varied kinds of soil, coastal sand, clay or even degraded soil.


Photo by: Spring Hill Nurseries.

Cornus kousa ‘Summer Gold’ is a compact tree that provides multi-season interest. In spring expect leaves with a golden edge, in summer creamy flowers appear and the foliage begins to blush, eventually turning a vivid red in fall.

Photo by: Spring Hill Nurseries.

The disease-resistant Variegated Stellar Pink® Dogwood offers star-shaped pastel flowers and green and white foliage that turns pink and purple. Give this tree enough space to grow, it can reach up to 20 feet tall and wide.

Photo by: RWI Fine Art Photography / Alamy Stock Photo.

Cornus florida 'Cloud Nine’ is the most cold-hardy variety and produces an abundant display of extra -large, pure white flower bracts in the spring, even at an early age.

Photo by: Holmes Garden Photos / Alamy Stock Photo.

Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Sunset' has deep pink to light red flowers and variegated yellow-green foliage that turns red in the fall. It is the only variegated dogwood with red flower bracts.

Cornus florida ‘Rubra’ has pink to reddish petal-like bracts that open flat, giving the appearance of a single, large-diameter, four-petaled flower.

Photo by: Bertrand Dumont / Millette Photomedia.

Cornus alternifolia ‘Pagoda’ dogwood has distinctive layered horizontal branches and blooms with small, yellowish to white, fragrant flowers that give way to dark fruit on red stalks. The foliage turns red in fall.

Photo by: Jon Lindstrom / Millette Photomedia.

Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) has small yellow flowers that bloom early in spring before the leaves appear, and can be grown as a large deciduous shrub or trained as a small tree.

Photo by: Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo.

Cornus Venus dogwood is a hybrid variety crossed from C. kousa and C. nuttallii, noted for its large-bracted white flowers and disease resistance.

Photo by: Kevin Schafer / Alamy Stock Photo.

Pacific or mountain dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) can be grown as a medium-size tree or tall shrub and is the western version of flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). Pacific dogwoods have tiny purple-green flower clusters surrounded by large white bracts. Foliage will turn yellow, orange, and red in the fall.

Photo by: Todd Boland / Millette Photomedia. Photo by: Todd Boland / Millette Photomedia.

Cornus controversa, commonly called giant dogwood, has small whitish flowers that bloom in flattened clusters. The cultivar ‘Variegata’ has variegated green and white leaves.


The Redbud Festival in Denton, Texas (also known as the “Redbud Capital of Texas”) is the city’s official Arbor Day event. Held every April, this community festival traces its roots back to an annual Texas Woman’s University festival held from the 1930s until 1981 to celebrate the school’s beautification and tree planting efforts.

The annual Honaker, Virginia, Redbud Festival, celebrated since 1981, takes place every April, when the city erupts into a brilliant display of pink, with thousands of redbud trees heralding the coming of spring. The event features live music, games, pageants, a canoe race, and auto show.

The Redbud Festival in Columbus, Wisconsin, rejoices the awakening of its redbud trees in mid-May with special events throughout the city, a city-wide garage sale, sidewalk sales, and the Columbus prince and princess contest.

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