|Scarlet cordia flowers|
Cordia sebestena is a shrubby tree in the borage family, Boraginaceae, native to the American tropics. It ranges from southern Florida in the United States and the Bahamas, southwards throughout Central America and the Greater Antilles. Common names have included siricote or kopté (Mayan) in 19th Century northern Yucatán, scarlet cordia in Jamaica, and Geiger tree (after Key West wrecker John Geiger) in Florida.
Cordia sebestena grows to a maximum height of 25–30 feet at maturity, with a nearly equal spread. The crown is round to vase-shaped. Branches tend to be somewhat drooping, and the tree is naturally multitrunked. When only a single trunk is allowed to develop, it can attain a diameter of 12 inches.
The dense, evergreen foliage consists of dark green, leathery, alternate, ovate leaves, seven inches long, with wavy margins. These leaves are covered with small hairs, lending them a rough, "sandpapery" texture.
Flowers are produced in clusters at branch ends throughout the year, particularly in the spring and summer. Flowers are two inches wide, red-orange in color, tubular, flaring (salverform) with 5-7 lobes, bearing 5-7 stamens of similar height. The species is heterostylous and presumably self-incompatible . Pear-shaped fruits follow the flowers, averaging two inches in length. Fruits are fragrant and edible, but not flavorful.
Cordia sebestena is widely planted throughout the tropics as an ornamental plant in gardens for its showy flowers. It is a slow-growing plant, and sheds enough leaves and fruit to require some upkeep. The wood is rather light in density, but branches are not prone to breakage. The tree should be pruned in its youth to establish a structure, as it is prone to low branching. Soil tolerance is fairly broad, provided the soil drains well. Cordia sebestena tolerates drought, but not frost. It is not particularly susceptible to pests and diseases, other than the geiger tortoise beetle, which can cause occasional defoliation. This plant tolerates salt spray found near the ocean. It enjoys full sun, and can grow in a part-day sun situation as well. Its uses include: street tree, shade tree, even as a container subject in its youth. It is planted in traffic medians and parking lots, and is a useful seaside subject.
- "Cordia sebestena". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- Heilprin, Angelo (July–December 1891). "Observations on the flora of North Yucatan". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 29 (136): 137–44.
- "Bats Of Jamaica". Museum, University of Nebraska State. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- Nelson, Gil (1996). The Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida: a Reference and Field Guide. Pineapple Press Inc. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-56164-110-9.
- Gilman, Edward F. "Cordia sebestena: Geiger Tree". University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- Canché-Collí, César (June 2014). "Distylous traits in Cordia dodecandra and Cordia sebestena (Boraginaceae) from the Yucatan Peninsula". Botanical Sciences. 92 (2): 289–297.