This is my husband’s favorite tree; possibly the only tree he ever really focused on. The ornamental, exfoliating bark is the main feature of this tree. Native to the Phillipines and surrounding islands, it is sometimes called the Mindanao Gum tree. The tree provides most of the pulpwood for paper and is grown on plantations in the Phillipines.
We first ran across this tree and its spectacular bark on the road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii. Intrigued by the tree, I researched it and was interested to find that it can be grown in South Florida. The tree is not tolerant of frost and our average low is 40 degrees. It is sited in a protected area, but is getting pretty tall.
And grow it does. I bought this tree in November 2012 at a plant sale in West Palm Beach at Mounts Botanical Garden. It was run over with a Riding lawn mower shortly after being planted and smashed flat. This resulted in two scrapes down the entire length of the trunk. Eschewing arboricultural reason, I decided to try and save the tree rather than buy another one. I went to Home Depot and bought a tree staking kit, cleaned its wounds, took out the damaged bark and wrapped the trunk with tree wrap and staked the tree until it healed. A few months later the bark had calloused and the tree was off to the races.
Currently, nearly two years later and overwhelmingly robust I would estimate the tree is 30 feet tall. It doubled in size in one year (it was 5-6 feet tall when I bought it!) and has grown 18 feet in the past year. Now I am a little afraid.
The bark is currently not showing any purple or blue, but I believe it will. The new growth is red and it flowers in summer, not terribly exciting flowers, little white panicles – fortunately, no fruit thus far. The bark is the star of the show.