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Tabebuia caraiba: Trumpet Tree1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


An ideal patio, specimen, or lawn tree, the Tabebuias are small, 15- to 25-foot tall, evergreen trees with silvery foliage and deeply furrowed, silvery bark on picturesque, contorted branches and trunk. The crown is usually asymmetrical with two or three major trunks or branches dominating the crown. During late winter and sporadically throughout the year, they put on a brilliant display composed of a multitude of two to three-inch-long, golden yellow, trumpet-shaped blooms borne in terminal flower clusters. The leaves often drop just before the flowers appear.

Figure 1. Mature Tabebuia caraiba: trumpet tree
Figure 1.  Mature Tabebuia caraiba: trumpet tree
Credit: Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Tabebuia caraiba
Pronunciation: tab-eh-BOO-yuh kuh-RYE-buh
Common name(s): Trumpet tree
Family: Bignoniaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: street without sidewalk; deck or patio; specimen; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; highway median; container or planter
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 15 to 25 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: oval
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: palmately compound
Leaf margin: entire, undulate
Leaf shape: oblong, elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: semi-evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: silver
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: very showy


Fruit shape: pod or pod-like, elongated
Fruit length: 3 to 6 inches, 6 to 12 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; showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


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


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

A native of tropical America, trumpet tree can be grown in full sun or partial shade on any reasonably fertile soil with moderate moisture. Trees should be protected from frost. Although some will leaf out following a freeze, the tree is often weakened and grows poorly. The wood becomes brittle with age and can break easily in strong winds but this is not usually a problem since trees are small with an open canopy and should not be cause to eliminate this beautiful tree from your tree palette. To the contrary, it is one of the most beautiful trees in flower which has a place in most landscapes.

The pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia heterophylla) is the one most suited for street tree planting since it is reportedly more sturdy and durable than Tabebuia caraiba. Tabebuia impetigenosa and Tabebuia umbellata are hardy to zone 9b with pink flowers borne on bare branches.

Propagation is by seed or layering.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.


1. This document is ENH-771, 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
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH-771

Release Date:April 20, 2015

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