Scientific Name: Melochia umbellata
Synonyms: Melochia indica, Visenia umbellata
Common Names: Melochia, Hierba del Soldado
Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub
Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized, weedy, fast-growing shade and reforestation tree is native to tropical Asia and Australasia.
Flower Color: Pink, Pinkish red, Orange (rare), Yellow (rare), Violet (rare)
Height: Up to 50 feet (15 m) tall, but usually less
Description: The flowers are in multiple, branched, flat-topped clusters at the branch tips. The individual flowers are small and have 5 blunt-tipped petals and 5 stamens. The flowers are followed by grooved, 5-celled seed capsules containing winged, wind-dispersed, brown seeds. The leaves have toothed margins and are light gray when young, light green when older, alternate, petiolate, stellate-hairy, and heart-shaped. The bark is fibrous and can be used to make string or rope. The wood is soft and deteriorates quickly after being cut. These shrubby trees have a rounded growth form, and in forested areas, they stand out from the other trees due to their paler, silvery green foliage.
Melochia grows in pastures and second-growth forests and is very common near Hilo, Hawaii, where it was planted after a large fire in 1928.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Sterculiaceae – Cacao family
Genus: Melochia L. – melochia
Species: Melochia umbellata (Houtt.) Stapf – hierba del soldado
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