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Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean 2


Reaching a height of 45 feet and a spread of 25 feet in an oval form, satinleaf is a medium-sized tree noted for its unusually beautiful foliage. The evergreen, 4-inch-long leaves are a glossy, dark green above and a glowing, bright copper color beneath, providing a beautiful, two-toned effect when breezes cause the leaves to flutter. Leaves in some respects resemble those of the brown-back southern magnolias. This Florida native makes an attractive freestanding lawn specimen or blends well in a shrubbery border or naturalized landscape. It could be tried as a street tree or parking lot tree. Use it cautiously since it can be severely damaged at 32°F and below. The trunks are rather showy because they are covered with thin, light reddish-brown, scaly bark. Small, inconspicuous flowers are followed by small, sweet, purple or black fruits.

Figure 1. Full Form—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf
Figure 1.  Full Form—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf

General Information

Scientific name: Chrysophyllum oliviforme

Pronunciation: kriss-so-FILL-um awl-liv-ih-FOR-mee

Common name(s): Satinleaf

Family: Sapotaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 2)

Origin: native to Florida, the West Indies, and Central America

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: native

Uses: street without sidewalk; deck or patio; screen; specimen; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); tree lawn 4–6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; shade

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 35 to 45 feet

Spread: 18 to 25 feet

Crown uniformity: symmetrical

Crown shape: oval

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: slow

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen

Leaf blade length: 1 to 5 inches

Leaf color: dark green and shiny on top, paler green and covered with a dense, rusty pubescence underneath

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Leaf—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf
Figure 3.  Leaf—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf

Figure 4. Leaf, Under—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf
Figure 4.  Leaf, Under—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf

Figure 5. Canopy—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf
Figure 5.  Canopy—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf


Flower color: white

Flower characteristics: not showy; bell-shaped; emerges singly or in clusters from leaf axils

Flowering: year-round


Fruit shape: long, oval or olive-shaped

Fruit length: ¾ inch

Fruit covering: fleshy drupe

Fruit color: turns from green to purple or black when ripe

Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem; excretes a milky sap

Fruiting: year-round

Figure 6. Fruit—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf
Figure 6.  Fruit—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches droop; showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: reddish brown, thin, and scaly

Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: brown

Current year twig thickness: medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 7. Bark—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf
Figure 7.  Bark—Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf
Credit: Gitta Hasing


Light requirement: full sun to partial shade

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained to occasionally wet

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: yes

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Satinleaf should be grown in full sun or partial shade on fertile, well-drained soils. Plants should be mulched and watered faithfully, although they are able to withstand occasional drought. The tree has not been widely planted but should make a good, durable urban tree in USDA hardiness zones 10b and 11. Trunk and branch structure is good, making this a clean, long-lasting tree.

Star apple, Chrysophyllum cainito, closely related, bears leaves of similar decorative quality and is grown for its larger (up to four inches long), more edible fruits.

Propagation is by seed, or semi-hardwood cuttings under mist.

Pests and Diseases

Caterpillars will occasionally chew the leaves, gall mite can deform leaves, and leaf notcher chews leaves.


Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.


1. This document is ENH325, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH325

Release Date:April 22, 2019

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Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

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    • Andrew Koeser