Firmiana simplex

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Chinese parasol tree
Firmiana simplex3.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Firmiana
Species: F. simplex
Binomial name
Firmiana simplex
(L.) W.F.Wight[1]
  • Hibiscus collinus Roxb.
  • Hibiscus simplex L.
  • Firmiana platanifolia R.Br.

Sterculia platanifolia L.f.

Firmiana simplex - MHNT

Firmiana simplex, commonly known as the Chinese parasol tree or wutong (Chinese: 梧桐; pinyin: wútóng) is an ornamental plant or tree that has recently been assigned to the family Malvaceae, formerly of the cacao, or chocolate family Sterculiaceae of the order Malvales, and is native to Asia. It grows to a height of 16 m (52 ft).[2] It has alternate, deciduous leaves up to 30 cm (12 inches) across and small greenish white flowers that are borne in clusters. It is grown as an ornamental in warm regions of North America.


Due to its superior 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.[1][2]

Invasive species[edit]

Recent publications mention the species as an aggressive and invasive weed in the warmer parts of North America. They urge its removal and give instructions for drastic measures, including destruction of nursery stock. The plant is self-fertile and its seeds spread readily, especially along watercourses, and they germinate and grow rapidly. They compete effectively, smothering many other species.[4]


  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. ^ 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]