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Plant Guide

Dichrostachys cinerea


Pronunciation: dy-kro-STAK-iss sin-EER-ee-uh
Family: Fabaceae
Synonym: Cailliea glomerata, Dichrostachys nutans
Common Name: aroma, Kalahari Christmas tree, Chinese lantern tree, sickle bush, sickle pod
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs

Height to: 25'
Width to: 25'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
  • 60 to 50ºF ZONE 12

Notes: Origin: Africa to India, Southern Thailand and Malaysia. Also found in the Northern Territories of Australia where it has naturalized.

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 13-24
USDA 10-12

Landscape Use: Small accent tree with interesting form and line characteristics. Best used as an accent patio tree where the intricacies of its flowers can be viewed up close. Good for either residential of commercial landscape plantings.

Form & Character: Partially deciduous large shrub or small tree, informal, open, irregularly upright and rounded.

Growth Habit: Quite variable and irregular, though in general it is slow to moderate growing to 25 feet height with near equal spread.

Foliage/texture: Leaves bipinnate, 1" to 4" long, with 5-10 pairs of pinnae, each one with 10-30 pairs of minute folioles; medium fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: Colorful, unique pink and yellow flowers, spicate, solitary on a bracteate, short shoot, 2" to 3" long including the glabrous to puberulous peduncle. Fruit a glabrous pod, green when maturing and brown when mature, narrowly oblong and variously curved and/or coiled, 2" to 3" long, 1/10" wide, blackish, glabrous. Seeds biconvex, elliptic to subcircular, pale tan, glossy; pleurogram elliptic.

Seasonal color: Flowers in late summer and autumn into early winter.

Temperature: Cold hardy to 27oF

Light: Full sun

Soil: This tree needs well drained soil

Watering: Infrequent deep irrigations; use water to control growth rate.

Pruning: Must elevate canopy base strongly to desired height training rigorously when young to establish upright habit. Naturally will assume a shrub habit.

Propagation: Seed easy with acid scarification (95% sulfuric acid for 30 minutes followed by intense rinse in water). Also, can propagate by use of root cuttings.

Disease and pests: Various root rot pathogens can infect Chinese lantern tree if soil is excessively wet or poorly drained leading to sudden death.

Additional comments: This is a rather rare smaller accent tree for xeric landscape designs. Though rare in the Phoenix area, it is often considered to be invasive in tropical ecosystems and has been noted to produce root suckers and dense thickets in tropical and subtropical regions. Source: ASU


USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 90 to 120 days ZONE 8
  • 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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