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Products > Bocconia frutescens
Bocconia frutescens - Tree Poppy
Image of Bocconia frutescens
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Papaveraceae (Poppies)
Origin: South America
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Green
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Height: 10-16 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Bocconia frutescens (Tree Poppy) - A large shrub or small tree growing 12 to 18 feet tall with odd wand-like smooth-barked stems holding oblong pinnately cleft gray-green leaves, hairy on the under surface, that are congested toward the tips of the branches. In late spring and early summer appear the small petal-less greenish-purple flowers in dense 8-24-inch-long panicles that are followed by gray fruit.

Grows in full sun or moderate shade and tolerant of most any soil. Can be irrigated regularly or given little or no supplemental watering in coastal gardens. Not stem hardy to more than a moderate frost with long duration temperatures much below freezing, but will resprout from base after freezing to the ground. The flowers are not showy but are attractive to bees and the bold foliage is very attractive and the plant useful for a tropical look in the background of the garden against finer-textured plants.

This widely adaptable plant is native to southern Mexico through Central America into South America and the West Indies where it grows in wet and dry forests on many different soil types. In Hawaii, where it was introduced in the 1920's, it has become an aggressive invasive weed, particularly on the big island (Hawaii) and on Maui but it has not proven weedy in our mediterranean climate. All parts of this plant are poisonous, and its orange latex sap has been used for medicinal purposes in its native range and is also used as a dye.

Carl Linnaeus named this genus in his Species Plantarum in 1753 to honor the Italian botanist Paolo Boccone (16331704). The specific epithet means "becoming shrubby" from the Latin word 'frutex' for "shrub. Other common names include plume poppy, tree celandine, parrotweed, sea oxeye daisy and in Jamaica it is wildly known as John Crow bush because it grows in the John Crow Mountains, so named for the Turkey Vulture, which is sometimes called John Crow or Carrion Crow. We first received this plant from Gary Hammer and have offered it at our nursery since 2002. 

This information about Bocconia frutescens displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.