What Are Pros And Cons Of Tipu Trees?
When improving your outdoor space, trees are an especially important feature. In addition to being a prominent focal point, trees can provide shade and beauty when chosen for an appropriate space. With a large canopy and unique foliage, could the tipu tree be a great fit for your landscape? We will explore the pros and cons of tipu trees to help you decide.
Tipuana Tipu trees can be a beautiful and exotic addition to your landscaping. Native to Brazil, they are best suited for zones 9-11 and thrive in warmer climates.
The pros of tipu trees are their prolific shade, drought tolerance, and interesting foliage. Some cons to tipu trees include excessive debris, invasiveness, and its considerable need for space.
A quick look at online reviews will tell you that tipu trees can be a delight or a disaster. This is largely due to factors like climate, yard space, and maintenance requirements. This article will give you some helpful insights into what owning a tipu is really like.
Pros of Tipu Trees
There are many great features to these trees, if you have the right space. Here are some of the benefits:
- Lots of shade
- Flexible watering needs
- Beautiful leaves and flowers
- Fast growth
- Can be up to 100 feet tall
Especially in warm climates, ample shade is a welcome respite from the sun and heat. This is where tipu trees shine, growing a large canopy that can reach over 50 feet in width when mature.
It also provides shelter for local birds and wildlife, and makes a great spot for warm-weather picnics or afternoon tea.
Shade can also be very useful to help cool your home during hot summers, reducing air conditioning costs. Just make sure your tipu is planted far enough away to prevent it from eventually crowding the house, as it can grow into a very large tree.
Requires Less Watering
Tipu trees are flexible when it comes to their watering requirements. They need extra watering during the first 1-2 years after planting, but once established they’re happy with a minimal amount of water.
They thrive in moist, well-drained soil, but can also handle heat and dryness remarkably well. They’re a popular choice in Southern California, where strict watering requirements can prevent other types of trees from flourishing.
Even in the southwest, these trees can go a few weeks without supplemental watering and add prolific greenery to desert climates. When first planted though, the tipu will need extra water and care until it matures and develops a strong root system.
Beautiful Foliage and Flowers
They have gorgeous yellow flowers that appear from spring to early summer, giving it an exotic, tropical flair. Your tipu will be full of bees and butterflies during this time, as these flowers are highly attractive to beneficial insects.
They also have a sweet smell, though the fragrance isn’t very strong.
The tipu’s leaves are small and plentiful. Tipus are classified as a semi-evergreen, and their leaves stay on the branches a bit longer than normal deciduous trees. The many tiny leaves give the tree a full, lush canopy.
Cons of Tipu Trees
Each of the benefits above come with some potential drawbacks. Here are some issues you may have with this tree:
- Takes up lots of space
- The root system and canopy can become invasive
- Produces significant debris
- Can attract pests
Need For Space
The trees can become very large and can stretch up to 100 feet in height. They also tend to grow rather quickly, so if your space is too small, you may find yourself with an overgrown mess in a few years.
Careful planning and an eye on the future are essential to determining whether a tipu’s need for space will be a positive or a negative in your situation.
Its wide canopy and prolific branches can crowd your roof or nearby street, potentially destroying sidewalks or eventually disturbing your foundation. Tipu trees require serious pruning to keep them at bay, and a wide berth on the ground for its shallow, bumpy root system.
If you’re hoping to maintain a lush, walkable lawn beneath your tipu, this may not be an easy feat. Its roots are obvious and are a definite part of the landscape.
Depending on your preferences, the root system is either a beautiful natural feature or a blemish in a manicured lawn.
Because of its large number of tiny leaves, the many flowers it produces, and its winged seed pods, having a tipu tree can become messy underfoot multiple times during the year. This is something a homeowner has to be diligent to clean up frequently, or must simply live with.
Many tipu owners outsource this work regularly, accepting the cost of clean-up crews to keep things clean. Others are happy to do the work themselves, and some simply leave things be and allow debris to stay on the ground.
However it’s handled, potential tipu buyers should know the excessive amount of leaves and other material that will be an unrelenting part of tipu ownership.
The Tipu Psyllid
Another potential problem is the tipu psyllid, an insect that feeds on the leaves of tipu trees.
These bugs have natural predators in their native Brazil, so their numbers are kept in check.
However, these insects have now established themselves among tipus in Southern California, where the ecosystem doesn’t provide a way to naturally mitigate the pests.
The bugs produce a sap-like substance called honeydew that can cover the bark and drip onto whatever is below the canopy. Greater infestations can cause leaves to curl up and drop too soon.
Early prevention is recommended to keep these pests from colonizing a tipu. This is done by treating the tree in winter or very early spring, before new leaf growth appears.
There are some important things to know about caring for your tipu, should you choose this tree for your yard or garden.What kind of maintenance does a tipu require?
The tipu tree needs regular pruning, often each winter, to keep new growth from creeping into the street or becoming invasive. In desert climates this may not be an issue, but a tipu will usually require this regular maintenance.
Make sure branches are trimmed during the wintertime. Summertime pruning will release a sticky sap that could drip onto the ground, or stimulate new growth where it is unwanted.
Many new branches may need to be trimmed off from underneath, as these tend to grow downward and can prevent foot traffic below the canopy.How does climate affect the tipu?
Tipus are amazingly hardy plants, thriving in climates that can differ significantly from their native Brazil. Climate zones 9-11 extend into the dry southwest, to the humid south, and even up to coastal Washington.
A tipu can do well in any of these places, but will react a bit differently in each. A tipu in the hot, humid south may grow larger and stronger than in the southwest, making it potentially more invasive with developed roots and a very broad canopy.
Tipus in the desert are still hardy, but will likely grow smaller and not be as invasive on the ground.
While it can survive in cloudier, cooler places like the Oregon coast, it does prefer at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.
Without enough sun, it may not thrive well or grow as quickly and beautifully. The leaves may become pale, and its branches may become lanky and lack foliage.What should be considered on planting day?
Tipus need to be planted shallowly, with the root flare visible. Planting too deeply may prevent proper rooting and cause its leaves to shed prematurely.
If you’re in Arizona, or another dry desert climate, you can cover the newly planted roots with mulch to protect them, but avoid extra soil or sod. If your soil is sandy or clay-based, you can amend it with compost or other organic matter.
Make sure the potential size is taken into consideration when choosing its location! Imagine the width of the canopy and the reach of mature roots, and plant accordingly. Many tipus have been removed a few years after placement due to poor planning.
Our Take on Tipus
Are tipus a great choice for your landscaping? That depends! Tipu trees can provide ample shade and need minimal watering, but they can also take over the yard and affect surrounding structures with their root system.
The debris a tipu can produce may be an untenable obstacle for a front yard. On the other hand, if it’s planted on a large acreage, a mess under the canopy may not matter to you that much.
It all depends on your yard space, climate, and personal preferences. If you have the room and don’t mind dealing with plant material, the tipu tree is a truly lovely tree that could benefit your garden for generations to come. Now it’s up to you to outweigh the pros and cons of planting a tipu tree.
Paige is an elementary school librarian with a passion for writing. Her hobbies include reading an exorbitant amount of fantasy, slowly teaching herself to draw, and home decor. While she isn't the most talented artist or interior designer, what she lacks in skill she more than makes up for in enthusiasm. When she's not curled up with a book, you can certainly find her curled over the keyboard.
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