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Publication #ENH386

Dalbergia sissoo: Indian Rosewood1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


A handsome specimen, shade, framing, or street tree, easily-grown semi-evergreen Indian Rosewood has delicate, light green, oval pointed leaflets and can quickly reach 60 feet in height with a 40-foot spread. The inconspicuous, very fragrant, white flowers are followed by slender, flat, brown, one to four-seeded pods. The trunks yield a prized cabinet wood for fine furniture and the Rosewood genus is an important timber tree in India. There are many Dalbergia spp. grown in the tropical regions of the world for veneer and lumber. Though the wood is beautiful, the tree has a reputation for being brittle. Some of this may be due to improper pruning practices or inadequate training when the tree is young. Be sure that lateral branches remain smaller than two-thirds the trunk diameter to help ensure good tree structure. Remove branches with embedded bark in favor of those with strong, `U'-shaped crotches. This could help keep the tree together in windstorms.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Dalbergia sissoo: Indian Rosewood.


Khalid Mahmood, CC BY-SA 3.0

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Dalbergia sissoo
Pronunciation: dal-BERG-ee-uh SIS-oo
Common name(s): Indian Rosewood
Family: Leguminosae
USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 11 (Figure 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: According to the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (IFAS Invasive Plant Working Group 2008), Dalbergia sissoo should be treated with caution in the central and south zone in Florida, may be recommended but managed to prevent escape. It is not considered a problem species and may be recommended in the north zone in Florida (counties listed by zone at:
Uses: shade; street without sidewalk; tree lawn 4–6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; parking lot island 100–200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; urban tolerant
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 45 to 60 feet
Spread: 30 to 40 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: oval
Crown density: open
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Figure 3)
Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: orbiculate, elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate, brachidodrome
Leaf type and persistence: semi-evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: pod or pod-like, elongated
Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches, 3 to 6 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: green, brown
Current year twig thickness: thin, medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: low


Roots: can form large surface roots
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

Growing quickly in full sun or high shifting shade, Indian Rosewood will thrive on a variety of soils types, from dry to wet but is not particularly salt-tolerant. Young plants should be watered until well-established. Plants train easily into a well-formed single leader tree, which is desirable in urban landscapes. Sprouts often develop from the roots and become a maintenance problem and roots often lift sidewalks if planted too close. Surface roots often grow large in diameter and can become a nuisance. A number of horticulturists consider this to be a nuisance tree. The tree casts light shade due to the open canopy.

Propagation is by seed, which germinates better if planted when still within the pod.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern. Magnesium deficiency is common.

Literature Cited

Fox, A.M., D.R. Gordon, J.A. Dusky, L. Tyson, and R.K. Stocker. 2008. IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas: Status Assessment. Cited from the Internet (November 16, 2012),



This document is ENH386, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised February 2013. Reviewed June 2016. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, 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 UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.