White cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla)

White cedar flowers
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White cedar fact file

White cedar description

GenusTabebuia (1)

Producing a resplendent display of showy, trumpet-shaped flowers when in bloom, the white cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla) is a distinctive inhabitant of many islands in the Caribbean region. Also known as the pink trumpet tree because of its characteristic flowers, the white cedar is an evergreen to semi-deciduous tree with furrowed bark and an irregularly shaped crown (2) (3) (4). It has leathery green, oblong- or oval-shaped palmate leaves with blunt tips, which grow in opposite pairs (3) (4) (5) (6).

The conspicuous trumpet-shaped flowers of the white cedar are often pink, although they may also be white, cream or light purplish-grey, appearing in clusters throughout the spring and summer. Flowering is followed by the production of long, slender green to dark brown seedpods (3) (4) (5) (6) (7).

Also known as
pink trumpet tree.
Height: up to 18 m (2)

White cedar biology

In Puerto Rico, the white cedar is reported to flower in the spring, when the tree may completely drop its leaves. It also reportedly flowers sporadically at other times throughout the year. The fruits of the white cedar are produced in May and June, becoming ripe from July through to September. Often mature fruits are found on the white cedar all year round (2) (4).

The elongated fruit pods of the white cedar measure between 8 and 20 centimetres, and contain many winged seeds. When the fruit is ripe, the capsule splits along two lines and the seeds are dispersed by the wind. The seeds may be carried more than 100 metres away from the adult tree, where they germinate in open areas to form dense stands of white cedar seedlings (2) (4).

The white cedar grows on any well-drained soil type, being found predominantly in areas where the annual rainfall varies between 100 and 250 centimetres (2). However, it is absent from high elevations and is intolerant of freezing temperatures, but is capable of withstanding drought for short periods (2) (7) (8).


White cedar range

The white cedar is native to the Caribbean, where it is widely distributed across most of the islands in the region, including the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla. The white cedar has also been planted in southern Florida, and has been introduced to islands throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans (2) (4) (7)


White cedar habitat

The white cedar is particularly common in abandoned pastures, dry coastal woodlands and secondary forests. It may also be found on grassland and in planted forest and scrub (2) (4) (7) (8).


White cedar status

The white cedar has yet to be assessed by the IUCN.


White cedar threats

The white cedar is not currently considered threatened as it has a relatively large, widespread and stable population. There are no known threats to the white cedar within its native range.


White cedar conservation

No known specific conservation measures have been targeted at the white cedar.

ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra

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A plant which retains leaves all year round. This is in contrast to deciduous plants, which completely lose their leaves for part of the year.
Having three or more veins, leaflets or lobes radiating from one point; like the palm of a hand with outstretched fingers.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
Refers to plants that lose their foliage for a very short period.


  1. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (February, 2011)
  2. Weaver, P.L. (1990) Tabebuia heterophylla (DC.) Britton, Roble Blanco, White-Cedar. In: Burns, R.M. and Honkala, B.H. (Eds.) Silvics of North America. Volume 2: Hardwoods. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington. Available at:
  3. Gilman, E.F. and Watson, D.G. (1993) Tabebuia heterophylla: Pink trumpet tree (ENH-774). Environmental Horticulture Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Available at:
  4. Global Invasive Species Database - Tabebuia heterophylla (February, 2011)
  5. Brown, S.H. (2006) Tabebuia heterophylla. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Available at:
  6. Gilman, E.F. and Watson, D.G. (1994) Tabebuia heterophylla: Pink trumpet tree. Fact Sheet ST-616. Environmental Horticulture Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Available at:
  7. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) (February, 2011)
  8. USA National Phenology Network (February, 2011)

Image credit

White cedar flowers  
White cedar flowers

© Mauro Halpern

Mauro Halpern


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