Cupaniopsis anacardiopsis: Carrotwood1

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

Introduction

This compact evergreen tree has 4- to 8-inch-long, glossy, dark green, divided leaflets and makes an ideal shade, specimen, patio or poolside tree. It is popular in many yards and is used as a small to medium-sized street tree spaced about 20 feet apart. The insignificant small lime-green flowers are followed by 1/2-inch diameter, green fruits which split open to reveal seeds but do not squash or stain. The seeds germinate in the landscape and may be a litter problem. Carrotwood is considered an invasive, noxious weed in Florida and should not be planted. The seeds may be disseminated by birds which would make it easy for the tree to spread rapidly into native hammocks. Caution should be taken when planting in other warm, coastal climates.

Figure 1. Full form—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood
Figure 1.  Full form—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood
Credit: UF/IFAS Extension

General Information

Scientific name: Cupaniopsis anacardioides

Pronunciation: koo-pan-nee-OP-sis an-nuh-kard-ee-OID-eez

Common name(s): Carrotwood

Family: Sapindaceae

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

Origin: native to Australia

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: Prohibited from use in Florida according to the Federal Noxious Weed List, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) 5B-64.011 Prohibited Aquatic Plants, or FDACS 5B-57.007 Noxious Weed List.

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range

Description

Height: 25 to 35 feet

Spread: 25 to 35 feet

Crown uniformity: symmetrical

Crown shape: round

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound; made up of 2 to 6 pairs of leaflets

Leaf margin: entire, undulate

Leaf shape: oblong, elliptic (oval)

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: leaflets are 4 to 8 inches

Leaf color: dark green to yellow green, shiny on top, paler green underneath

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Leaf—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood
Figure 3.  Leaf—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood

Flower

Flower color: white or green

Flower characteristics: not showy; emerges in clusters on 3-14" long panicles

Flowering: late winter to early

Fruit

Fruit shape: round, irregular

Fruit length: 1 inch

Fruit covering: fleshy capsule with 3 distinct segments

Fruit color: yellow-orange

Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Fruiting: ripens in spring

Figure 4. Fruit—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood
Figure 4.  Fruit—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: gray, thin, smooth, with orange inner bark

Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: brown

Current year twig thickness: thick

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 5. Bark—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood
Figure 5.  Bark—Cupaniopsis anacardioides: Carrotwood
Credit: Gitta Hasing

Culture

Light requirement: full sun

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

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: high

Other

Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: yes

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: susceptible

Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

Carrotwood tolerates poor, dry or wet soils, full sun, and hot, salty winds. It is truly a durable, urban-tolerant tree, able to grow even in confined planting pits in downtown sidewalks. Perhaps it is best used in these areas. It is deep-rooting on well-drained soils and will tolerate drought. Selected, upright branches in the crown can be removed to allow for more light penetration and better turf growth under the crown. If not, the dense canopy will shade out all but the most shade-tolerant plants. The wood is bright apricot-colored in cross-section, and resists breakage because it is hard. If you cut one down, save the wood. Wood-workers enjoy turning it on a lathe and making spindles and bowls.

Propagation is by seed.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern. Warning: Use with caution since the tree has become invasive in Florida. Commonly used as a street tree in southern California.

References

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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.

Footnotes

1. This document is ENH380, 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 https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu 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 #ENH380

Date: 2019-04-21
Southern Trees Fact Sheets

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Contacts

  • Andrew Koeser