Stemmadenia litoralis (Lechoso)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0024
  • Botanical Name: Stemmadenia litoralis
  • Common Name: Lechoso, Milky Way Tree
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Apocynaceae
  • Native To: Central America (Mexico to Columbia)
Stemmadenia litoralis 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Stemmadenia litoralis 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Landscaping Information

  • Plant Type: Tree
  • Texture: Medium
  • Form: Upright-broad 
  • Height (on average, in landscape use):  20' - 25'
  • Height to Spread Ratio: 2:1
  • Growth Rate: Medium
  • Landscape Values: Accent, Edging, Facer, Specimen
  • Outstanding Quality: Fragrance, Fruit
Stemmadenia litoralis 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Stemmadenia litoralis 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Botanical Descriptions

  • Flowers: White, fragrant, flowers, year-round blooms. Funnel shaped.
  • Fruits: Curved Ellipsoid. A thick, orange moustache. Yellowish-orange color. Dehiscent exposing seeds with red aril.
Stemmadenia litoralis fruits on the tree
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Stemmadenia litoralis fruit
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Foliage Color:  Young/immature: light green. Mature: Bright medium green to dark green.
  • Foliage Tip: Apiculate
  • Foliage Base: Acute
  • Petiole: 0.15"-0.8"
  • Stipules: N/A
  • Margins:  Undulate
  • Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
  • Leaf Shape: Elliptic
  • Leaf Type: Simple
  • Leaf Texture: Both sides are glabrous, prominent veins on the under side.
  • Leaf Special Notes: A handsome leaf
Stemmadenia litoralis adaxial leaf surface
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Stemmadenia litoralis abaxial leaf surface
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Bark and Trunk: Rough bark with a smooth, homogenous appearance. Beige to light beige-gray color.
Stemmadenia litoralis trunk
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Light Preference: Full Sun.
  • Light Tolerances: Semi-Sun
  • Soil Preferences: Organic, Moist, Loam, Sand, Well-Drained.
  • Tolerances: Humidity, Regular Watering
  • Water Requirements: Requires regular watering. Does well in lowland areas.
  • Notes on Maintenance: Requires fertilization every six months and needs irrigation about twice a week. Usually requires very little pruning, but can handle intense pruning. In dry areas, susceptible to spider mites. Does not like salt spray. 
  • Propagation: Seed
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 10a
  • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): -5, Low Risk
Illustration of Stemmadenia litoralis (Kunth) by L.Allorge in 
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, vol. 15: t. 47 (1928) 
Illustration contributed by Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, U.S.A.


Most Popular Plants

Breynia disticha (Snow Bush)

Graptophyllum pictum (Caricature Plant)

Bucida buceras 'Variegated' (Dwarf Variegated Geometry Tree)

Pseuderanthemum carruthersii var. carruthersii (Variegated False Eranthemum)

Ficus microcarpa var. crassifolia (Wax Fig)

Ficus triangularis (Triangle Fig)