Chinese Parasol Tree

Firmiana simplex

Other Common Names

Varnish Tree

Plant Category


Invasive Description

Native to Asia, Chinese Parasol Tree grows 30-45’ tall. It is best noted for very large, palmately-veined, 3-5 lobed leaves (to 12” across) that are bright green above and pubescent below and for its green stems and bark. The large leaves cast as much shade as an actual parasol. In summer, 10 to 20-inch-long, upright, loose, yellow/green blooms appear and are followed by the production of peculiar pods which split open into four petal-like sections to reveal the small, round seeds. The foliage can turn brilliant yellow before dropping in fall to reveal an interesting branching structure of green stems.

Ecological Threat

Chinese Parasol Tree is an aggressive, invasive plant in the warmer parts of North America and crowds out native plants in forests. It spreads and forms colonies by wind- and water-dispersed seeds. The seeds spread readily, especially along watercourses and grow rapidly after germination in favorable sites. The fruit is showy but does not attract wildlife. Fruit and large leaves create a litter problem.

How to Eradicate

For information on how to eradicate this invasive, view our statement on herbicide use and preferred alternatives for invasive plants.

Native Alternatives

You can replace this invasive plant with native alternatives. Here are some plants that make superior replacements.

Match your location on the Texas map to the color squares on the replacement plants below to find suitable replacements for your ecoregion.

Click for more details about the ecoregions