Pisonia grandis
Common Name: bird-catcher tree 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Nyctaginaceae
Native Range: Indian and Pacific Ocean
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 60.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 50.00 to 70.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 11-12 where it grows best in sandy, acidic, well-drained soils in full sun. Intolerant of frost.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pisonia grandis, commonly called bird-catcher tree, birdlime tree, lettuce tree or cabbage tree, is a soft-wooded, brittle-branched tree of the Bougainvillea family that grows to as much as 60-80’ tall. It is native to tropical islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans plus adjoining coastal areas, ranging from Madagascar to Polynesia. It is often found growing in dense stands on coral cays. Thickets of this tree are favored nesting sites for certain seabirds.

Long-petioled, elliptic, light green leaves to 12” long. Funnel-shaped, greenish-white flowers in compound axillary or terminal inflorescences bloom summer to fall. Female flowers give way to elongate cylindrical fruits with sticky prickles.

Seeds will attach themselves to the feathers of small birds thus trapping them, hence the common name of bird-catcher tree. Larger birds will carry the seed with them as they fly to different islands resulting in an interesting avenue of seed dispersal.

Genus name honors William Piso, 17th century Dutch physician and naturalist.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Interesting tree for locations sheltered from wind in frost free climates.