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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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Tuesday - August 18, 2015

From: Rock Hill, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Identity of tree in South Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I don't know if this is native as I'm new to South Carolina. This is a tree about 40' tall. The leaves are trilobal, 10" to a foot across/long and are trilobal, not glossy and have big veins. There are 'petals' that are about 2" long and have one to two little balls attached to the upper side(s). The bark is very smooth and the tree very straight. It looks kind of tropical to me. I have tried for months to find out what this is to no avail. Please help!! Thank you.

ANSWER:

My best guess is that it is the Asian species, Firmiana simplex (Chinese parasoltree).  It is considered invasive in Texas and elsewhere in North America (including South Carolina).  Here is a link to more photos and a map from the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States showing it as occurring in South Carolina and here are more images from Invasive.org.

 

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