Clusia major

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Clusia major
Starr 010330-0602 Clusia rosea.jpg
Clusia major
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Clusiaceae
Subfamily: Clusioideae
Tribe: Clusieae
Genus: Clusia
Species: C. major
Binomial name
Clusia major

Clusia major, the autograph tree, copey, balsam apple, pitch-apple, and Scotch attorney, is a tropical and sub-tropical plant species in the genus Clusia.


Clusia major is a tree found in the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Hispaniola (such as in Los Haitises National Park), Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Florida.[2][3]

It is a hemiepiphyte, that is, it grows as an epiphyte on rocks or other trees at the start of its life and resembles a strangling fig (Ficus). Just as a strangling fig it overgrows and strangles its host tree with its many aerial roots.[2][3][4]

The flowers are white. The upper leaf tissue registers 'writing' giving it the common name autograph tree. The tree produces a fleshy, light green but poisonous fruit; once the fruit has split, the seeds are favored by birds and other wildlife.


This plant is cultivated as an ornamental plant, for its flowers, foliage, and fruit. It is planted in gardens as a fruiting and ornamental tree in sub-tropical climates, and used as a houseplant in many climates.[5]


Clusia major has become a great threat to Sri Lanka, Hawaii, and many other tropical countries as an invasive plant.

In Sri Lanka it is spreading rapidly on the mountains of the central hill country. It especially grows on rocks and rock outcrops where it forms dense thickets. Being a hemiepiphyte that resembles a strangling fig, it also sprouts on branches and trunks of native trees and rapidly overgrows and strangles them. It therefore poses a great threat to what little remains of the native submontane forests, and the unique native vegetation around rock outcrops, such as on the Hantana mountain range near Kandy. It is known as Gal Goraka (ගල් ගොරක) or Gal Idda (ගල් ඉද්ද) in Sinhalese.[6][7][8]

It is one of Hawaii's most invasive plants and grows in forests and open, disturbed areas in low elevations. It is spread by birds which eat its fruits.[2][3][9]

Clusia major - the Autograph tree:
a leaf with autograph, flower, dried fruit, and fresh fruit.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  2. ^ a b c “Clusia rosea”, Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)
  3. ^ a b c ”Clusia Native Range”
  4. ^ - Clusia major
  5. ^ - Clusia rosea
  6. ^ Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, p. 84–85.
  7. ^ Nimal Gunatilleke, Rohan Pethiyagoda and Savitri Gunatilleke, “Biodiversity of Sri Lanka”
  8. ^ N.D.R. Weerawardane, “Status of Forest Invasive Species in Sri Lanka”,
  9. ^ ”Autograph tree: Clusia rosea” at ”Hawaii's Most Invasive Horticultural Plants” at

External links[edit]