Autograph Tree
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Autograph Tree
ntroduced Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Autograph Tree, Pitch Apple, Balsam Fig
Botanical name: Clusia rosea    Family: Clusiaceae (Garcinia family)

Autograph Tree is a very interesting tree which gets its common name from the fact that the leaves can be written on with a fingernail, and the writing remains until the leaf is shed. This wide-spreading, dense, rounded, 25-30 ft tall, evergreen tree has a short trunk. The leaves are broad, dark green, leathery, somewhat like Magnolia leaves. It is native to West Indies but used as an ornamental tree in many tropical countries. In summer, the showy, pink and white, two to three-inch flowers appear at night and sometimes remain open all morning on overcast days. The flowers are mostly born at the end of branches. The fruit is fleshy, light green, poisonous fruit, 3 inches in diameter. These persistent fruits turn black when ripe and split open, revealing bright red seeds surrounded by a black, resinous material. The seeds are very attractive to birds and other wildlife and they germinate readily in the landscape and surrounding areas. The black material surrounding these seeds was once used to fill in the seams and cracks of boats, hence its common name Pitch-Apple.

Identification credit: Prashant Awale Photographed in Maharashtra.

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