25 Aug

Polyalthia longifolia – the Mast Tree

This post is fifth in the Native Trees of Pakistan series. Today, I am featuring Polyalthia longifolia.

Polyalthia longifolia var. pendula or The Mast Tree is one of the prime choices of landscape designers. This evergreen, tall and slender tree grows symmetrically and produces fresh and shining green foliage. A Polyalthia longifolia tree grows as tall as 12 meter. The entire length of the plant is covered by long and wavy leaves. The beautiful contrast of new golden and coppery brown leaves against old dark-green leaves make a spectacular show.

polyalthia longifolia trees

Polyalthia longifolia flowers during spring for a brief period (approximately two to three weeks). During this period, the entire tree is covered with small star-shaped flowers of pale green color. The flowers grow in clusters and attract birds and butterflies.

polyalthia longifolia flowers

Flowering is followed by egg-shaped fruits that are visited by bats and flying foxes.

polyalthia longifolia fruits

Polyalthia longifolia can be easily trimmed in to a straight columnar growth covered with a lot of leaves. For this reason, it is suitable for landscapes, as a hedge tree, and as visual dividers or wind blockers in open spaces.

The trunk of Polyalthia longifolia has grey bark. Both the trunk and the bark are used in manufacturing of fiber. Timber is used for making boxes, pencils and long masts – that is why it is also known as the mast tree. In India and Sri Lanka, where the mast tree is held in high esteem, its leaves are used in religious ceremonies and for decorating arches and doorways.

Sometimes, Polyalthia longifolia, is incorrectly identified as Ashoka tree (Saraca Indica) because of closely resembling leaves of both species. Other names of the mast tree are Asupala or the Buddha tree.

polyalthia longifolia leaves

Polyalthia longifolia can be grown easily from seed or cuttings. It is a fast growing tree and requires good exposure to sunlight and moderate watering.

Polyalthia longifolio or the Mast Tree belongs to the Annonaceae family, which is one of the largest families of flowering plants and usually known as the custard apple family.

14 thoughts on “Polyalthia longifolia – the Mast Tree

  1. i have planted 3 of them 5 feet long in Pakistan.they’ll have direct sunlight. there leaves have fallen. i wanna know when will they have new leaves?

  2. I love this tree, and I would like to plant some of them. Can I plant them with the seed? Where can I buy some?

    I live in the northern part of Taiwan with a temperature of the year between 10-40 degree centigrades.

  3. I guess they show grow well in your climate, and they grow well from seeds. May be you can try any local nursery or online seeds shops. They are cheap.

  4. i live i merida yucatan mexico andi planted two trees 4years ago. they are now 6 mts tall [18ft] and beautifully full. they are not in the best location but have done nicely. they get direct tropical sun in the summer and only about three hours of full sun in the winter.

  5. Paul
    I travelled to India and discovered it. It is a beautiful tree but cannot find the way to get seeds. How did you manage?

  6. I live in Butare, Rwanda. I have planted 5 of them on Feb 12, 12. I brought them from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I am today anxious and wonder if they will like the place. Rwanda is mountainous with average altitude of 1600 m above sea level, and an average annual temperature of 23 degrees. Rainfall in Butare is around 1200 mm per year. I think I am the first to introduce it in Rwanda, and thus the tree does not have a name in our local language!

  7. It usually has a main tap root that can go as deep as 4 feet. You can grow it in a big pot but make sure that it is big enough to support the weight of the plan when it grows tall. I would advise that you keep your potted trees protected from strong winds. You may want to place your pot along with a wall.

  8. I’m from El Salvador Central America I went last year the City has plated this trees all on the streets they lock so beautifull

  9. As with most plants, development of roots depends on the type of soil and amount of water the plan receives. Polyalthia longifolia has one tap root very few shallow roots. As per my experience, the main root can go as deep as 4 feet.

Share Your Experience:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.