Thespesia populnea – Milo
Other Common Names: Pacific Rosewood, Indian Tulip Tree, Seaside Mahoe, Portia Tree
Thespesia populnea is a fast growing flowering plant species that belongs to the Malvaceae or mallow family. It is commonly known as Portia Tree, Pacific Rosewood, Seaside Mahoe, Indian Tulip Tree, or Milo and is often found on tropical coasts all over the globe.
It can be considered as a large shrub or a small tree, depending on the size. Generally, a Milo tree reaches 30 feet in height and has a spread of up to 12 feet. It is also possible for a tree to grow up to 40 feet or 12 meters tall. The tree has a gray bark with light cracks and crevices.
The leaves are normally oval, but there are also some that are triangular in shape. They have a shiny green surface and usually grow from 2 to 12 inches long. The flowers look like hibiscus, ranging from 2 to 3 inches wide. They start as pale yellow with a tinge of maroon in the center, but they turn pink as they grow old.
The flowers produce seed capsules that are spherical in shape and have a leathery texture. The capsules are usually 1 to 2 inches in diameter and contain about eight grayish brown seeds that are a quarter to half an inch long. They open once matured, but can also be opened by hand.
The young leaves of the Milo tree are edible, but people use the tree mostly for its grained wood. Milo wood is quite popular for woodworking an are usually used to make food bowls as well as musical instruments.