What Is A Tipu Tree: How To Grow A Tipuana Tree

By: Teo Spengler

If you’ve never heard of the exotic Tipuana tipu, you aren’t alone. It isn’t grown extensively in most parts of the country. What is a tipu tree? It’s a medium-sized flowering legume tree native to Bolivia. If you are thinking of growing a tipu tree, read on. You’ll find lots of Tipuana tipu information as well as tips on how to grow a Tipuana tree.

What is a Tipu Tree?

A tipu tree (Tipuana tipu) is a shade tree planted frequently in the warmer parts of the world. In the United States it is used as a flowering accent tree or a landscape tree. The tree has a single trunk and a high spreading canopy. It can grow to over 60 feet (18 m.) in height and about the same in width. However, in cultivation the trees usually don’t get that big.

Beautiful yellow flowers cover the tipu’s canopy during the summer months. These turn into the tipu fruit, large brown seed pods. Both flowers and pods create litter below, so this is something you should consider prior to planting.

Additional Tipuana Tipu Information

If you are thinking of growing a tipu tree in your garden, you’ll need to know a little more about the species. The first rule for how to grow a tipuana tree involves climate. The tipu is a tropical tree. It only thrives in very warm climates such as in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 through 11. However, even zone 9 may be too cold and you’ll have to consider protection.

If you are able to grow tipu trees, you’ll find them to be some of the most beautiful flowering trees for warm climates. The blossoms are yellow or apricot and pea-shaped. Tipu trees grow quite quickly. With proper tipu tree care, they can live to 150 years.

Tipu Tree Care

To start growing a tipu tree, plant the tree in a site with full sun or partial sun. Be a little careful about selecting a site. The tipu has a large trunk that buttresses out at the base. In time, the roots may be able to lift sidewalks.

If you want to know how to grow a tipu tree, you’ll be happy to learn that the trees are not picky about soil. They will grow in moist or dry soil, in clay, loam or sand. They prefer acidic soil, but also tolerate slightly alkaline soil.

Although tipu trees are reputedly drought resistant, tipu tree care means providing regular irrigation. This is particularly important during dry spells.

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Tipuana Tipu Information - Growing A Tipu Tree In The Garden - garden

Type: Simi evergreen or Deciduous
Category: Tree
Origin: Bolivia
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 30-60 feet
Form: Umbrella-shaped crown
Water Needs: Drought tolerant once established
Sunset Western Garden zones: 13-16, 18-24 H1, H2
Winter Hardiness: 20 degrees
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Foliage: Light green
Flower: Apricot to yellow, sweet pea-shaped
Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
Fruit or Seed: Seed pods follow the flowers

Other Details: The Tipuana tipu is admired for its colorful flowering appearance and is a great shade tree, street tree or lawn tree. With such rapid growth it is important to adopt the arboricultural philosophy of juvenile pruning. Commonly called the Tipu Tree, it is great for quickly creating a canopy of foliage for your home.

Eucalyptus Tree (Eucalyptus sp.)

There are many different types of Eucalyptus trees, varying in height, colour and shape. The majority have similar characteristics that make them unsuitable for your typical suburban backyard. They can grow very large and develop aggressive, wide-spread root systems that can damage structures and foundations. Eucalyptus branches can become weak and prone to falling, making them dangerous in storms and strong winds if they’re not consistently well maintained.


Growing up to thirty metres in height and twenty metres wide, Tipuana tipu is well known for its use as a shade tree. The leaves of the tree are pinnately compound, 10" (25 cm) long the pinnules typically are 1 to 3 inches (2 to 7 centimetres) long, and are variably paripinnate or imparipinnate on the same tree. The flowers are bright yellow in color and bloom only briefly in the late summer. The fruit is a hard, pod with the seed at one end, resembling a samara (the fruit of the Ash genus, Fraxinus).

Depending on where it is grown, Tipuana is largely a deciduous tree, annually shedding all or most of its leaves and large "helicopter" pods from midwinter to spring. It produces masses of seeds, most of which succeed in germinating, and it can withstand a very wide range of growing conditions, from –4 °C to salty soils to drought. [6] Timber is whitish in colour, strong and fibrous. Cut logs ooze blood-red resin. (see image)

Tipuana tipu is viewed as an invasive weed in some countries and is known for having a very aggressive root system. [7] The tree roots can easily lift up concrete and asphalt. Precautions should be taken when planting near buildings, homes, or pools, as they are likely to be damaged. Damage may sometimes be averted by trenching near the structure to a depth of about 1 metre and filling the trench with building rubble or lining the trench with thick plastic sheeting or corrugated roofing sheets.

Listed as a Category 3 Invasive species in South Africa. [8] [Category 3 = Species regarded as having the proven potential of becoming invasive, not allowed to occur anywhere except in biological control reserves, unless they were already in existence when the regulations went into effect. The conditions on which these already existing plants may be retained are that they do not grow within 30 m from the 1:50 year flood line of watercourses or wetlands, that all reasonable steps are taken to keep the plant from spreading, and that the Executive Officer has the power to impose additional conditions or even prohibit the growing in any area where he has reason to believe that these plants will pose a threat to agricultural resources. Propagative material of these plants, such as seeds or cuttings, may no longer be planted, propagated, imported, bought, sold or traded in any way. It will, however, be legal to trade in the wood of Category 3 plants, or in other products that do not have the potential to grow or multiply.] [9]

The species is a food plant for spittlebugs such as Ptyelus grossus. In Southern California, an insect called tipu psyllid Platycorypha nigrivirga has invaded several trees. [10]

Watch the video: Tipu Tree

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