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Publication #ENH325

Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


Reaching a height of 40 feet and a spread of 20 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 fruits.

Figure 1. 

Young Chrysophyllum oliviforme: Satinleaf


Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

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 (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
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
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


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 (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 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: elongated
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: purple
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: resistant
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; alkaline; acidic; well-drained; 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.



This document is ENH325, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Reviewed May 2014. 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.