Firmiana simplex

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chinese parasol tree
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Firmiana
F. simplex
Binomial name
Firmiana simplex
  • Hibiscus collinus Roxb.
  • Hibiscus simplex L.
  • Firmiana platanifolia R.Br.
  • Sterculia platanifolia L.f.
  • Sterculia simplex (L.) Druce
  • Sterculia urens Roxb.
Firmiana simplexMHNT

Firmiana simplex, commonly known as the Chinese parasol tree, Chinese parasoltree, or wutong (Chinese: 梧桐; pinyin: wútóng), is an ornamental plant of tree size assigned to the family Malvaceae that was formerly in the family Sterculiaceae in the order Malvales, and is native to Asia. It grows up to 16 m (52 ft) tall.[2]


It has alternate, deciduous leaves up to 30 cm (12 inches) across and small fragrant, greenish-white flowers borne in large inflorescences. A flowering tree varies in fragrance with weather and time of the day, having a lemony odor with citronella and chocolate tones. A tall, stately specimen grows in the botanical garden in Florence, Italy. Bumble bees and Giant Mason Bees readily visit the flowers in Maryland, U.S. People grow this tree as an ornamental in warm regions of North America.


Due to its sonic properties, the wood is used for the soundboards of several Chinese instruments, including the guqin and guzheng.

According to an article in the journal Nature of 1884, the leaves of Sterculia platanifolia were dried for smoking;[3] the reason for smoking it was not given, but another source simply says that it was used as a substitute for tobacco.[4][5]

The roasted seeds have reportedly been used to make into a tea.[6]

Invasive species[edit]

This species is an aggressive, invasive weed in the warmer parts of North America [7] Some people promote its removal and give instructions for drastic measures, including destruction of nursery stock. This plant is self-fertile, and its seeds spread readily, especially along watercourses, growing rapidly after germination in favorable sites. Offspring effectively compete with many other species.[8]


  1. ^ "Firmiana simplex" at the Encyclopedia of Life
  2. ^ Ya Tang, Michael G. Gilbert & Laurence J. Dorr. "Firmiana simplex". Flora of China. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  3. ^ Anon, Nature, August 7, 1884, pp 337-338
  4. ^ "Read the eBook Useful plants of Japan, described and illustrated. By Bombay (Presidency). Government Central Museum online for free (Page 7 of 18)".
  5. ^ "Useful plants of Japan, described and illustrated". 1895.
  6. ^ Little, Elbert L. (1980). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. New York: Knopf. p. 603. ISBN 0-394-50760-6.
  7. ^ "Controlling the Invasive Chinese Parasol Tree in St. Francisville, Louisiana and West Feliciana Parish".
  8. ^ Miller, J.H., E.B, Chambliss, N.J. Loewenstein. 2010. A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests. General Technical Report SRS-119. Asheville, NC. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

External links[edit]