Guazuma ulmifolia
Common Name: West Indian elm 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Central America
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 30.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Pale yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12 where it is best grown in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. Tolerant of humid and dry climates.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Guazuma ulmifolia, commonly called West Indian elm, is a medium-sized broadleaf evergreen tree that typically matures to 30-60' tall with a rounded crown. It is native to tropical areas in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. Oblique, acuminate, hairy, ovate to lance-shaped leaves (2-4" long) are scabrous above and velvety below. Leaves are evergreen, except some leaf drop normally occurs in climates with dry seasons. Tiny, mildly fragrant, pale yellow flowers (to 1/4" diameter) appear in many-flowered, axillary or terminal cymes. Peak bloom time varies with geographical location, but generally trees will sporadically flower throughout much of the year. Flowers are followed by blackish, warty, rounded to oblong fruit capsules (each to 1 1/2" long) which resemble mulberries. Fruits contain a very small amount of edible pulp.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Theobroma guazuma.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin words ulmus meaning elm and folia meaning leaf in reference to the elm-like leaves.


No serious insect of disease problems.


Shade tree for landscapes. In native habitats, practical uses include (1) wood is used for a variety of purposes including posts, crates, construction, and carpentry, (2) foliage is a fodder source for livestock, (3) medicinal applications for treatment of a wide variety of medical impairments and (4) seeds are edible.