Anyone grown exotic trees?

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Forum topic by Purrmaster posted 04-26-2015 10:41 AM 3537 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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915 posts in 2973 days

04-26-2015 10:41 AM

This question is primarily just curiosity. Has anyone tried growing some of the rare, exotic trees like ebony and pink ivory?

I was thinking it might be cool to try and grow some exotics like ebony trees. Partly for preservation purposes but mostly for the hell of it. I wouldn’t get lumber out of something like an ebony tree within my lifetime.

Most of the exotics seem to come from tropical areas in South America and Africa so they might not even make it in Oregon.

I’d think the biggest problem to start off with is getting seed or saplings that are the genuine article. I’d have to find a trustable supplier.

It’s one of the projects that’s been bouncing around in my head. Has anyone tried growing something like ebony or pink ivory themselves?

11 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5870 posts in 3231 days

#1 posted 04-26-2015 01:23 PM

Adaptation to climate is genetic, and tropical trees won’t have any frost tolerance. Moving trees in latitude is difficult because the trees become adapted to a specific length of growing season and if they break bud too early in the spring or don’t shut down early enough in the fall, frost damage will occur and the tree will likely not make it for long, unless it is in a climate controlled environment. If you want to try and grow exotics look for species of similar latitude.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View leafherder's profile


1969 posts in 2832 days

#2 posted 04-26-2015 01:46 PM

There is (or was) a garden seed company called Thompson & Morgan that specialized in exotic seeds. I used to get their mail order catalog several times a year but haven’t seen one for several years. They sold exotic tree seeds for people who grew their own bonsai trees. I had some luck growing palm trees, and citrus trees from seed as houseplants here in Ohio – of course keeping them dwarf meant no useable lumber. One Orange tree lasted 30 years (never more than 2 feet tall). They also had seeds for exotics like Dawn Redwood and Gingko that can survive here in Ohio, but I never tried those. You might contact a local zoo, botanical garden, or arboretum – they might sell seeds in their gift shop. Local university agricultural extension office might have some good tips about what will grow in your climate. Good luck and keep us posted (I am still trying to find a replacement for that orange tree – smelling fresh orange blossoms in February was a treat).

-- Leafherder

View firefighterontheside's profile


21226 posts in 2736 days

#3 posted 04-26-2015 02:25 PM

I have tried growing conifers from different parts of the country. I love conifers. I started some sequoia seeds that I got on eBay, but they died off pretty quick. Same story with some others. I collected cones here and ther and got the seeds out. They started but died. I now have a little sequoia in a pot that my mom brought home from a California gift shop. So far so good. Otherwise, on my land in Missouri I have lots of short leaf pine, loblolly pine, Virginia pine, eastern white pine, a few ponderosa pines, a few red pines, Norway spruce and blue spruce, one bald cypress that’s real small. Next I will try dawn redwood I think. Nothing exotic though.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1346 posts in 2593 days

#4 posted 04-26-2015 02:37 PM

My local Botanical Garden has greenhouses with all sorts of exotic trees so it is possible for sure: I noted that they have lignum vitae in one of the houses. That sure is exotic!
Outside (in DK) i have seen figs, gingko bilboa, monkey tree and smaller palms. Some of my friends keeps olive, orange, lemon and peaach in heated greeenhouses.

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Wildwood's profile


2899 posts in 3014 days

#5 posted 04-26-2015 03:55 PM

Whether domestic or exotic trees can take many years to mature but more than 100 plus years to provide the best lumber. Find a tree that you would enjoy see growing and will thrive in your climate & soil.

You can buy Texas Ebony (evergreen/conifer) seeds and trees if live in zones 9 to 11. No idea on cost but do know Texas Ebony does not like cold.

-- Bill

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 3284 days

#6 posted 04-26-2015 05:08 PM

I’ve only tried mango & coconut because of the ease of getting the seeds in grocery stores. Neither lived past two years mainly to my neglect. There is a place that sells Koa seeds in Fremont, CA called “Koa” ([email protected]) also, you may be interested in checking out a site called “The Cloudforest Gardener”....they have been working to adapt Koa to the NorCal climes. Also check out “Wayne’s Word” part of the Palomar College programs-it’s a site with amazing amounts of botanical info and incredibly fun to browse…....Within three blocks of my house there is a Wiliwili tree. The wood was used by Pacific Islanders as out riggers for their boats as the wood is light and buoyant. On my block there is a Monkeypod and an Indian Rain Tree. All 3 are/were used extensively in there native lands…..If you consider Ginko exotic then there are dozens of them planted as street trees in Berkeley. I’m not sure if conditions are right in So. Oregon for Pink Ivory or Ebony ( you do mean the black Nigerian?)....Good luck if you do give it a go- I don’t even know where to get seeds/starts of most of the wood that I have stashed….

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 2674 days

#7 posted 04-26-2015 05:31 PM

I really want to grow a Wollemi Pine tree. It’d be like having a pet dinosaur in your yard.

View OkSixPack's profile


18 posts in 2041 days

#8 posted 04-26-2015 06:06 PM

Not trying to sound like a jerk, but you may run afoul of some laws also. I don’t know if they have laws controlling that kind of stuff like they have for wild animals or not. It would be a shame to get some planted and then have to remove them, or worse… Jim

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 2401 days

#9 posted 04-26-2015 06:41 PM

I don’t care to hijack this thread but, in sort of the same vein, has anybody tried adding anything to the soil around common trees to change the appearance of the wood ? At one time I thought about watering oak, maple and sassafras trees with dyed water to see if it would color the wood blue, red, green, etc. but it would take so long to harvest the wood that I’ve now gotten too old to expect to see any results.

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 3284 days

#10 posted 04-26-2015 08:31 PM

Yonak…Mark Harrell of the University of Nebraska did a fairly in depth study titled “Exploring the Links- Tree Biology and Trunk Injections”. Not specifically on dyes but it gives an overview on injections and the damage it can cause. He does have pics of red dye movement in the sap…. also arborists inject insecticides and more rarely fertilizers into trees….Have heard of people trying to dye trees by root watering….haven’t heard of any really successful attempts….I think if it was easily done, you’d see the wood in boutique type lumber yards.

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2973 days

#11 posted 04-29-2015 05:23 AM

Good point on the legal question. There may be export restrictions on stuff like gaboon ebony. Though I would think the seeds wouldn’t be restricted. Koa is an interesting idea.

I wouldn’t be growing exotics for the lumber, really. I would probably start the trees in a pot for several years and then try and move them outside when larger. Which may cause them to promptly die.

Has anyone in warmer climates like Florida and Texas tried growing exotics from Africa and South America?

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