Ant tree

Triplaris americana
Ant tree:Triplaris americana Ant tree:Triplaris americana

Common name:

Ant tree

Scientific name:

Triplaris americana (Polygonaceae)

Alternative common names:

Triplaris, Indian almond (English); triplaris (Afrikaans)

This tree grows 8-10m high with a straight, smooth, grey trunk with pyramidal crown. Leaves are bright green and smooth, or brownish-velvety beneath along the midrib and veins. Small male and female flowers on separate trees from April to May in large clusters, along densely greyish-yellow, light brown hairy axes. Female flowers red. Shiny brown fruits. Poisonous leaves.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    Central and South America.

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    CARA 2002 – Category 1 NEMBA – Category 1a

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    KwaZulu-Natal.

    How does it spread?

    Seed dispersal.

    Why is it a problem?

    Competes with and has the potential to replace indigenous species. The leaves are also poisonous.

    What does it look like?

    General description: This tree grows up to 8-10m and has a straight trunk with smooth, grey bark. Leaves: Leaves are bright green and smooth, or brownish-velvety beneath along the midrib and veins. Flowers: Small male and female flowers on separate trees from April to May in large clusters, along densely greyish-yellow, light brown hairy axes. Female flowers are red. Fruit/seeds: Shiny brown, sharply three-angled seeds, held inside the fruiting perianth, 30-50mm long, with brown hairy base and three pinkish-red wings.

    Does the plant have any uses?

    Planted as an ornament.