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Publication #ENH-748

Simarouba glauca: Paradise-Tree1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


The pinnately compound, 16-inch leaves of paradise-tree have multiple, three-inch-long, shiny, leathery, oblong leaflets which are reddish when young. An upright tree when young, paradise-tree ultimately reaches 50 feet in height with a 30-foot spread and creates a dense, rounded crown at maturity. The tiny, inconspicuous, yellowish, springtime blooms on this frost-sensitive tree are followed by small clusters of dark purple, one-inch-long, edible fruits. Although paradise-tree produces desirable shade, the seeds and fruits are messy and will stain hard surfaces, and the shallow surface roots are troublesome to sidewalks and driveways and make it difficult to operate a lawn mower beneath the canopy.

Figure 1. 

Young Simarouba glauca: paradise-tree


Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Simarouba glauca
Pronunciation: sim-uh-ROO-buh GLAW-kuh
Common name(s): Paradise-tree
Family: Simaroubaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; shade; specimen; street without sidewalk; highway median; attracts butterflies
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 40 to 50 feet
Spread: 25 to 30 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: upright/erect, round
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: even-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: oblong, obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: 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: yellow
Flower characteristics: showy


Fruit shape: oval, elongated
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: purple
Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves 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: brown
Current year twig thickness: thick
Wood specific gravity: unknown


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


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

The coarse leaf texture and light green, compound foliage allows this tree to "stand out" in a crowd. It could be used as a boulevard or median street tree. Plant them on 25 to 30 foot centers to form a solid canopy above.

Paradise-tree grows in full sun or partial shade on almost any well-drained soil. A native to south Florida, it will grow quickly on rich soils high in organic matter and should be protected from frost. Large trees are reportedly difficult to establish from containers, but there are no scientific studies supporting this notion.

Propagation is by seed, which germinate easily and rapidly. Young plants or seedlings are easily transplanted.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases of major concern.



This document is ENH-748, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and 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.