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Firmiana simplex - (L.)W.Wight.

Common Name Chinese Parasol Tree, Chinese parasoltree, Japanese Varnish Tree, Chinese Parasol Tree
Family Sterculiaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Along the sides of roads at low altitudes[109].
Range E. Asia - China.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Firmiana simplex Chinese Parasol Tree, Chinese parasoltree, Japanese Varnish Tree, Chinese  Parasol Tree
Firmiana simplex Chinese Parasol Tree, Chinese parasoltree, Japanese Varnish Tree, Chinese  Parasol Tree


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Bloom Color: White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Oval, Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Firmiana simplex is a deciduous Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9. It is in flower in July. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant).
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


F. platinifolia. Hibiscus simplex. Sterculia mariesii. S. platinifolia.


Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - roasted[105, 177]. An oily texture[178].


Medicinal Uses

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Antiphlogistic  Astringent  Expectorant  Refrigerant  Salve

Astringent, salve[178]. The seed is antiphlogistic, expectorant and refrigerant[218]. A decoction of the roots is used to reduce swellings[218]. A lotion of the leaves is used in the treatment of carbuncles, haemorrhoids and sores[218].


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Other Uses

Fibre  Hair  Wood

A fibre is obtained by retting the bark[46, 61]. It is used for coarse cordage[109] and cloth[178]. A hair wash is made from the leaves and fibre[178]. Wood. Used for making furniture and coffins[46, 61, 178].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming


Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Fiber  Industrial Crop: Gum  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

Landscape Uses:Pest tolerant, Pollard, Specimen. Prefers a good sandy loam[1]. Requires a well-drained but moisture-retentive fertile soil in full sun or light shade[188]. Plants are not very hardy in Britain, they succeed outdoors in the mildest parts of the country[11, 166], though they do not reach tree-size[188]. Trees cast a heavy shade[178]. Special Features:Not North American native, Naturalizing, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Industrial Crop: Gum  Used as thickeners and gelling agents. Non-destructively harvested gums come from tapped trees and seed.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.


Temperature Converter

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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a warm greenhouse[200]. The stored seed can be sown in the early spring in a greenhouse[1] and usually germinates within 2 months[K]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for at least their first winter outdoors.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Taylor A. Oncale   Mon Nov 14 2005

Grows very nicely in Raleigh NC.

Debbie the gardener   Fri Dec 8 2006

We have one growing here in somerset, england. Its about 10 years old, multi-stemmed,8 feet tall and perfectly healthy. At present we wrap it every winter for fear of losing it to frost but will have to leave it to its fate once it gets much bigger. Lovely looking tree though and worth having.

   Aug 28 2014 12:00AM

As an ornamental plant it has been superb for me. They grow fast and strait and provide a good bit of shade. They transplant very easily. I dug up some trees that were over 20' tall with few roots and they transplanted easily (but I had to put heavy logs around the base to hold the trees in place until new roots had established. They breezed through an abnormally cold winter that got down somewhere between -1ºF and -4ºF with no damage. I live in a hot, humid area that gets lots of rain. Trees thrive in full sun or dense shade.

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