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Products > Hymenosporum flavum
Hymenosporum flavum - Sweetshade
Image of Hymenosporum flavum
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Pittosporaceae (Pittosporums)
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 15-20 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Hymenosporum flavum (Sweetshade) - A slender evergreen tree that grows to 40+ feet tall and half as wide with light gray bark and shiny green leaves that form clusters at the ends of the branches. The fragrant flowers bloom spring into early summer (peaking in Santa Barbara in May) and emerge a pale yellow to almost cream and darken to deep yellow with age.

Plant in full sun to light shade with deep, infrequent watering. Hardy to around 20 F. Established trees did not suffer from the short duration sub 20 temperatures experienced in the Goleta Valley in December 1990. This tree has been called the Queensland Frangipani because the scent of the flowers resembles the scent of Frangipani blossoms (Plumeria). It is often used in street plantings or other areas where a narrow upright tree is needed, though we note that it is a little variable in growth habit, especially if the terminal growth is pruned or damaged but with pruning can easily maintained to have a tidy form.

Hymenosporum flavum is native to Queensland and New South Wales in Australia where it is found in rainforests and tall open forest habitats and is also found to the north in New Guinea. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'hymen', meaning a membrane and 'spora' meaning seed in reference to the winged seeds. The specific epithet is from the Latin word 'flavus', meaning yellow in referring to the typical flower color. Besides Sweet Shade, other common names include Hawaiian Wedding Tree and Queensland Frangipani.

Sweetshade was first introduced into cultivation in California by Santa Barbara residing Italian botanist Dr Francesco Franceschi (AKA Emanuele Orazio Fenzi) in 1900 and there are many large specimens in the Santa Barbara area. A large specimen called the Hayward Hymenosporum in downtown Santa Barbara near the corner of Castillo Street and Dibblee Ave was planted in 1904 and is now listed as the largest Sweetshade in California on the California Big Tree Registry. We have been growing this beautiful tree on and off since our nursery was established in 1979 and we have one planted in our front parking lot. 

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