Plant Identification Filter
April 18, 2019 8:24 AM   Subscribe

It's a flowering tree of some sort. The blooms are slightly larger than a golf ball. It blooms in spring. My grandmother's friend brought back a seed from a trip to Jerusalem sometime in the 1960s, or at least that's the story. She may have also visited Jordan and Lebanon during that trip. The photo is from a more recent planting, growing in coastal North Carolina (Zone 8a).

The tree my grandmother planted died after Hurricane Diana. The tree my mother planted just died in Hurricane Florence. My mother's tree was 20-30 ft tall when it fell.
posted by a complicated history to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If nobody here can answer, I HIGHLY recommend asking on the Plant Identification board of Dave's Garden. I have used it several times and typically gotten an accurate identification in less than half an hour!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:38 AM on April 18, 2019

As a starting point, it sure looks like it belongs to the mallow family.
posted by aws17576 at 8:49 AM on April 18, 2019

It appears to be a sweet almond tree, but I could be wrong.
posted by Gneisskate at 10:39 AM on April 18, 2019

Reddit's "What's this Plant" sub is also really good/fast with the ID's. If you don't want to make an account I'd be happy to post it for you.
posted by lovableiago at 11:49 AM on April 18, 2019

Aleurites fordii, aka Vernicia fordii or tung oil tree? (ref 2)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 3:12 PM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I agree with Spathe Cadet. It’s a tung oil tree.
posted by shrabster at 3:26 PM on April 18, 2019

If it is a tung oil tree, you might not want to keep it...
posted by Mchelly at 4:09 PM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

From Mchelly's link: All parts of the tung tree are poisonous... The seeds are the most dangerous part of the plant. One seed can be fatal to a human. Symptoms may include severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, slowed breathing, and poor reflexes. The leaves give some people a poison-ivy-like rash.

Yep. That's it. Same seed pods. I used to play with them as a kid. WTF.

It's generational trauma via gardening.
posted by a complicated history at 5:31 PM on April 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

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