Clusia rosea – Autograph Tree
Other Common Names: Pitch Apple, Copey, Florida Clusia, Signature Tree, Scotch Attorney
Clusia rosea is a large genus of shrubs and trees which belongs to the Clusiaceae or the Mangosteen family. It is native to the Caribbean and is also known as the Signature Tree, Florida Clusia, Pitch Apple, Copey, Scotch Attorney, or the Autograph Tree.
What makes the Autograph Tree unique is the fact that it is a hemiepiphyte, which means that it starts as an epiphyte, growing on the surface of another plant. Then, once it reaches the ground, it eventually plants itself. However, the downside is that it overgrows and chokes its host plant to death using its roots. That is why, this round headed and smooth-barked tree, is considered as a dangerous and invasive species in some countries.
The dark green or olive leaves of the tree are stiff and leathery, growing to about 8 inches long. The leaves are tough enough to endure being written on, hence the name “autograph tree”.
During the summer, the tree grows pink or white flowers that grow in long inflorescences. The beautiful flowers last only for part of the day and turn brown as they grow old. They are usually 3 inches or 8 centimeters across and are composed of 6 to 8 petals that are broad and rounded.
Seed capsules follow the flowers. They are colored green to tan and are fleshy and rounded, growing up to 3 inches or 8 centimeters in diameter. Once dried, they are split open and seeds with soft, red flesh are exposed. The fleshy seeds are usually eaten by birds, but the green seed capsules are poisonous.