Cordia sebestena: Geiger-Tree
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Florida Trees: Cordia sebestena: Geiger-Tree1Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2 UF/IFAS reprint
Cordia sebestena: Geiger-Tree1Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2
IntroductionThis dense, rounded, evergreen native tree grows slowly to a height of 25 feet with an equal spread and can develop a trunk 12 inches thick. The large, seven-inch-long, stiff, dark green leaves are rough and hairy, feeling much like sandpaper. Appearing throughout the year, but especially in spring and summer, are dark orange, two-inch-wide flowers which appear in clusters at branch tips. The splendid flowers are followed by one to two-inch-long, pear-shaped fruits, which have a pleasant fragrance but are not particularly tasty.
General InformationScientific name: Cordia sebestena
Pronunciation: KOR-dee-uh seb-ess-TAY-nuh
Common name(s): Geiger-Tree
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: container or planter; street without sidewalk; deck or patio; shade; specimen; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; highway median
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree
DescriptionHeight: 25 to 30 feet
Spread: 20 to 25 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: round, vase
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: slow
FoliageLeaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: undulate
Leaf shape: ovate, cordate
Leaf venation: brachidodrome, pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy
FlowerFlower color: orange
Flower characteristics: very showy
FruitFruit shape: oval
Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: white/gray, green
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem
Trunk and BranchesTrunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; can be trained to one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: 0.70
CultureLight requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: high
OtherRoots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases
Use and ManagementGeiger-Tree is quite salt- and brackish-water tolerant, making it ideal for use in coastal landscapes as a free-standing specimen, patio or framing tree. Most specimens are seen as multitrunked and low-branching but nurseries can produce single-trunked trees suitable for downtown and parking lots. It has been used as a street tree in some communities but drops leaves as a drought-avoidance strategy in prolonged dry spells. According to legend, the common name was bestowed by Audubon in commemoration of John Geiger, a Key West pilot and wrecker of the 19th century and is now used quite universally as the common name for this excellent Florida native tree.
Growing in full sun to partial shade, Geiger-Tree is tolerant of light, sandy, alkaline soils and salt-spray. It is highly recommended for seaside plantings. Do not plant where there is the slightest danger of frost.
Cordia boissieri is frost-resistant (tolerating temperatures in the high 20's) and has stunning white flowers with yellow centers.
Propagation is by seeds or layering.
PestsMites, scales, and caterpillars will occasionally attack Geiger-Tree. The geiger beetle defoliates the tree upon occasion but the trees generally grow out of it and do fine. The problem can be locally troublesome.
DiseasesNo diseases are of major concern.
Footnotes1. This document is ENH341, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Visit the EDIS Web Site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension service.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean.
Copyright InformationThis document is copyrighted by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of the State of Florida. UF/IFAS retains all rights under all conventions, but permits free reproduction by all agents and offices of the Cooperative Extension Service and the people of the State of Florida. Permission is granted to others to use these materials in part or in full for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given to the UF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and date of publication.