Sterculia is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It contains about 150 species, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Old World. Common names include sterculia, bush tulip, kokum and kokum butter.
Sterculia plants are large shrubs or small to medium-sized trees, with a spreading crown. The leaves are alternate, simple, and large, with toothed or lobed margins. The flowers are borne in clusters, and have five petals and numerous stamens. The fruit is a large, fleshy, many-seeded capsule.
Sterculia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the nutmeg moth (Acrocercops ericameriae). The wood of some species is used for timber or fuel. Kokum butter, made from the seeds of Sterculia.
How to care
Sterculia plants are generally easy to care for, and do not require much special attention. They should be grown in a well-drained, moist soil, in a sunny or partially shaded location. Once established, they are relatively drought tolerant.
Prune Sterculia plants as needed to maintain a desired shape or size. Heavy pruning can be done in late winter or early spring.
Sterculia plants prefer a moist, well-drained soil. They should be watered regularly, especially during dry periods. Allow the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings.
Type of soil
Sterculia plants prefer a moist, well-drained soil. A good quality potting mix or garden soil will suffice.
Sterculia plants do not require a lot of fertilizer. A general purpose fertilizer can be applied once or twice a year, in early spring and mid-summer.
Sterculia plants can be propagated from seed or cuttings.
Seeds can be sown in spring or summer. Sow the seeds in a well-drained seed starting mix, and keep them moist until they germinate.
Cuttings can be taken from new growth in spring or summer. Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to take 4-6 inch cuttings from the tips of the branches. Remove the lower leaves, and dip the cuttings in rooting hormone. Plant the cuttings in a well-drained potting mix, and keep them moist until they root.
Pest and disease
Sterculia plants are generally pest and disease free. However, they can be susceptible to scale insects and mealybugs. These can be controlled with regular applications of insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
Sterculia plants make good specimen plants or hedges. They can also be grown in containers.