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.

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