​​​​​​​​Mast Tree

  • Common Name: Mast tree, False Ashoka, Indian Fir tree
  • Scientific name: Polyalthia longifolia ‘Pendula’
  • Family name: Annonaceae
  • Origin: India
  • Height: 30 to 45 ft
  • Width: 3 to 6 ft
  • Growth: Fast
  • Zone: USDA zones 10a through 11
  • Light needs: Full sun
  • Salt tolerance: Low
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers well-drained, sandy or loamy soil, slightly acidic (pH 6.0-7.0).
  • Moisture: Average water needs – water regularly until established.
  • Drought tolerance: High – can tolerate dry conditions for a relatively long period of time
  • Pests/Diseases: No pests or diseases are of strong concern.
  • Growing conditions: Grows best in a warm, sunny area with well-drained soil. This tree has recorded to reach up to 60 ft in height, so it should not be planted too close to other trees. It is very drought tolerant due to its native environment going through seasonal dryness, so droughts are not a major concern. However, it is very sensitive to frost, so it should not be planted in areas that regularly have freezing temperatures.
  • Characteristics: It is a very narrow and upright tree with a dense, weeping growth habit – its branches and leaves droop towards the ground. Leaves grow alternately along the stem, and are long, lanceolate. Leaves are usually wavy along the margins. Bark is grayish brown and slightly fissured. Flowers are small, greenish-white, and inconspicuous. Berries are small, purple, and grow in clusters.
  • Propagation: By seed.
  • Wildlife: Bats and birds eat the fruit and disperse seeds. Pollinators are attracted to the flowers.
  • Facts: In India, this tree has historically been planted around temples and used to make wreaths. After the British invaded India, it became a popular choice to use to make ship masts, hence its name. In Florida they are commonly used as a tropical substitute for Italian Cypress. This plant is tolerant to most herbivores due to its toxicity.
  • Designer considerations: It is commonly used to add height to gardens, and its dense foliage makes it a good screening plant. It is also a great choice for streets and walkways, not only because of its narrow growth habit, but also because of its noise reduction abilities.


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Mast Tree