Cheiranthodendron pentadactylon – The Devils Hand Tree or Monkey Hand Tree
With brilliant red flowers that open pointing upwards Cheiranthodendron pentadactylon (syn Cheirostemon platnoides) is commonly called the ‘Devils Hand Tree’. It is a fast growing tree that will reach 10m plus in height, however less in some soils and climates.
Flowering from spring through to summer with the main flush in summer it attracts birds through the nectar which collects in the base of the flowers.
Flowers are large from 10 – 14cm across. This is an evergreen tree
Although Cheiranthodendron pentadactylon is originally from the warmer climates of Mexico and Guatemala is does naturally grow in cooler mountainous areas. It will grow well in cooler climates and is regarded as hardy down to much cooler climates and will cope with light frosts.
Two good examples can be found growing in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, one in the Eastern Lawn and another in the Vireya Bed.
Cheiranthodendron pentadactylon Care
Best in warmer climates, however it will grow well in cooler areas that are not subject to long cold winters and heavy frosts.
Growing well in full sun, in warmer dry climates it will appreciate some afternoon shade.
Moisture through summer is important, as is a well drained soil.
Propagation is from cuttings or from seed, however seed needs to fresh for good germination rates. Seed can be sown into trays of propagation mix and kept moist. Germination may take 12 – 16 weeks.
You will need to open the hard woody pods to get at the seeds or be patient and wait for them to open on the tree.
Some growers use a cold stratification to improve germination, immersion in hot water after cold stratification seems to assist. Abrasion of the seeds between sheets of sand paper also assists.