SelecTree: Tree Detail

MILO
Thespesia populnea

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Photo Locations: Moanalua Gardens - Honolulu, HI, Lyon Arboretum - Honolulu, HI and Hilo, HI

General Notes

Milo is a culturally important tree likely introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesian settlers. It can be recognized by its glossy, heart-shaped leaves, yellow, dark-throated hibiscus-like flowers, and woody, brown fruit in the shape of compressed globes. They grow well in low-lying, coastal areas with fruit that float and seeds that germinate on the beach. For this reason, this species is now widely naturalized in tropical coastal areas across the world. The fine-grained wood is valued for carving, and the bark yields tough fibers used for cordage, fishing lines, and coffee bags. Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is an indigenous related member of the cotton family (Malvaceae) with fruit that split open at maturity and leaves lacking the long tips of milo. Thespesia populnea has a HPWRA (Hawai'i Pacific Weed Risk Assessment) score of 9 (High Risk), and the Plant Pono link is: https://plantpono.org/pono-plants/thespesia-populnea/.

Native to Worldwide Tropics.

Family: Malvaceae

Additional Common Names

MILO, PORTIA TREE, PACIFIC ROSEWOOD, ADEN APPLE, INDIAN TULIP TREE, SEASIDE MAHOE, BADRIRT, BANALO, BANG-BENG, KILULO, MIO, MIRO, AMAE, MULOMULO, PANU

Tree Characteristics

Erect Low or High Canopy.

Rounded Shape.

Has Evergreen foliage.

Height: 10 - 40 feet.

Width: 10 - 30 feet.

Growth Rate: 36 Inches per Year.

Longevity 50 to 150 years.

Leaves Heart-Shaped, Green, No Change, Evergreen.

Flowers Showy. Yellow. Flowers in Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer. Has perfect flowers (male and female parts in each flower).

Prolific, Brown Capsule, Medium (0.50 - 1.50 inches), fruiting in Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer.

Bark Brown, Rough or Smooth.

Shading Capacity Rated as Moderately Dense in Leaf.

Litter Issue is Flowers, Dry Fruit and Leaves.

Tree Site Conditions & Constraints

Sunset Zones H1, H2.

USDA Hardiness Zones 10 - 12.

Exposure Full Sun.

Wet to Moist Soil.

Drought tolerant.

Clay or Loam Texture.

Slightly Acidic to Neutral Soil pH.

Salinity Tolerance is Good.

Seaside Tolerance is Good.

Pests & Disease Information

Susceptible to Cotton Stainer Beetles.

Health, Safety & Environmental Concerns

Attracts Birds and Butterflies.

Special Uses & Values

Seaside Tree, Shade Tree, Street Tree, Coastal Screen, Xerophytic, Hedge.

Hedged.

Cite this tree:
SelecTree. "Thespesia populnea Tree Record." 1995-2020. Aug 14, 2020.
< https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/thespesia-populnea >

This tree is not part of the SelecTree Nursery Connection. If you would like to see this tree listed, or know of a nursery that sells it, please contact us at ufei@calpoly.edu.