Triplaris americana
Common Name: ant tree 
Type: Tree
Family: Polygonaceae
Native Range: South and Central America
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 35.00 to 65.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Red, Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Flowering Tree
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Easily grown in loamy, moist soils in full sun. Will tolerate short periods of soil saturation. Hardy in Zones 10-12. This is a tropical plant that does not tolerate frosts or freezes of any kind.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Triplaris americana, commonly called ant tree, is a large, fast growing tree native from Panama south to tropical regions of South America. This species has become naturalized in the Caribbean and portions of Australia and is considered invasive in South Africa. The straight, upright trucks have smooth, grey bark and can reach around 1' in diameter. The glossy leaves are oval-shaped and occasionally have small brown hairs along the abaxial (lower) surface of the veins. This plant is dioecious, meaning that it has separate male and female plants. The male flowering spikes produce pollen which fertilize the female flowers, producing clusters of small winged fruits. Mature trees have a somewhat narrow, cone-shaped canopy and can reach up to 65' tall with a 25' spread.

Genus name comes from the Greek word triplex meaning triple as the parts of the flowers are in threes.

The specific epithet americana means "of or from America", in reference to the native range of this species.

This tree can form mutually beneficial relationships with ants, giving it its common name. The ants feed on exudes from the tree and provide the tree with protection.


No known pest or disease problems. This plant will form mutualistic relationships with ants, which can then aggressively protect the tree from intruders with a painful bite. This plant will spread readily from seed where hardy, and is potentially invasive in some areas.


A fast growing tropical accent tree. If cut back, will sprout readily from the stump.