Cordia sebestena: Geiger tree

Family: Boraginaceae
Common name: Geiger tree, Scarlet cordia, Siricote, Orange geiger tree, Sebesten plum, Scarlet cordia

A beautiful, sturdy tree with broad green leaves, and bright orange flowers; Geiger trees thrive in warm tropical weather. In India, they are found on roadsides, parks, landscaped areas, riversides, forest, hillsides and almost anywhere. They are resistant to drought, wind, salinity and fluctuations in weather.

Geiger trees can grow to a height of 7-9 meters with a small, rounded crown. The bark is deeply furrowed on maturity, reaching a diameter of about 30 cms on maturity. The tree branches well from when they are young, and can be pruned to maintain a bushy crown.

Leaves are broad, ovate, leathery, and green, about 20-25 cms long and covered with fine hairs giving it a rough, sandpapery texture.

Geiger trees are capable of producing flowers throughout the year, but mainly during summer and spring, when the ends of branches are filled with clusters of orange flowers. These flowers are tubular with a thin, long corolla tube that’s about 5-7 cms long. The petals are distinct with a ruffled appearance, and stamens are visible at the same level as the petals.

The flowers then produce small pear-shaped green fruits that are about 5 cms long. These fruits turn white when they are ripe, and is edible and fragrant, but not very flavorsome. Fruits can contain 1-4 seeds inside.

Geiger trees are tough and slow-growing, slowly establishing and taking root in the soil it’s planted in. It has some medicinal uses; the fruits are used to treat fever. Leaves are used as a remedy for bronchitis, stomach and intestinal ailments. Wood of the tree is heavy and hard, and is used for small-scale carpentry work.

It’s mostly grown as an ornamental tree because of its beautiful leaves and flowers. And also because it stays green and healthy throughout the year. But make sure the tree is placed in full sun, as it cannot tolerate complete shade.

Propagation is through seeds.

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