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Plant Guide

Dalbergia sissoo


Pronunciation: dal-BERG-ee-uh SIS-oo
Family: Fabaceae
Common Name: Indian rosewood, Shisham, sissoo tree
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs

Height to: 60'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
  • 60 to 50ºF ZONE 12
  • 70 to 60ºF ZONE 13

Notes: Origin: Native to India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Indian rosewood has been widely planted in the tropics and has now broadly naturalized. It has escaped from cultivated sites in Florida where it has been designated an invasive species.

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 13, 15-24
USDA 9 (freeze damage when young), 10-11 

Landscape Use: Large shade tree, patio tree, street tree, useful for mesic and oasis landscape themes

Form & Character: Evergreen to semi-evergreen shade tree, alpine to tropical look, mesic landscape design themes.

Growth Habit: Upright, vigorous and open to 60', though the eventual mature height and spread of this tree in Phoenix is unclear. Generally becomes more spreading in habit with age, though much of its eventual mature form is dependent on whether propagated by cutting or seed.

Foliage/texture: Foliage alternate pinnately compound, 3 to 5 light to medium green ovate to orbicular leaflets to 2" with acute tip, leaflets tremble in wind like aspen, the bark phellogen of the trunk is smooth and light colored when young but becomes roughened and fissured with age, medium texture

Flowers & fruits: Inconspicuous greenish yellow flower in small axillary clusters in the spring followed by persistent single achene fruit clusters in summer and fall

Seasonal color: None

Temperature: Young trees will suffer freeze damage below 28oF, older trees become partly deciduous in winter cold. Use of this tree may be problematic in the coldest (lowest elevation) portions of the Phoenix Valley because of winter cold injury. Tolerates the Phoenix summer heat well if properly irrigated.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Somewhat prone to iron chlorosis in alkaline and/or caliche soils. As needed correctively treat with iron chelate and magnesium sulfate fertilizers, much like citrus.

Watering: Prefers regular, deep irrigations during summer to promote luxuriant growth.

Pruning: Prune to shape and to raise canopy base level. In Phoenix, Indian rosewood is less prone to sunscald than Arizona or Raywood ash.

Propagation: Seed or cutting

Disease and pests: Gunner bees might eat a circular portion out of new leaves in late spring and early summer. White flies feed on succulent growth in late summer and early fall. Fusarium wilt is rare.

Additional comments: Currently, Indian rosewood is a very popular semi-evergreen shade tree in Phoenix as a luxurious oasis landscape tree alternative to ash and western cottonwood. Small, cutting-grown trees from nursery containers usually need ample staking and training in the landscape for years after transplanting before full landscape establishment. This tree can grow root suckers in poor, shallow soil (this has been noted by Dr. Ed Gilman to be a serious problem in his home state of Florida, and also in Hawaii) and will produce some litter (leaves and fruit especially during fall) throughout the year. After teak, it is the most important cultivated timber tree in India, planted on roadsides, and as a shade tree for tea plantations. Indian rosewood makes first class cabinetry and furniture. It is used for plywood, agricultural, and musical instruments, skis, carvings, boats, floorings, etc. Source: ASU


USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12

Submitted by: distantkin
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