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Grow Guide: Tuckeroo Tree (Cupaniopsis anacardioides)

The tuckeroo tree is a highly attractive Australian native tree with a lovely rounded shape and non-invasive roots. It’s popular for planting as a specimen tree on your nature strip or anywhere around your home and can often be found in public areas as well.

This lovely tree is both drought and frost-tolerant once well-established and will happily live in most soil types.

The Tuckeroo Tree has creamy flowers in autumn and these are followed by bright orange berries in spring. These berries are a favourite with the local bird population while the flowers will often attract butterflies to your garden.

It makes an attractive shade tree in your garden and is also suitable for growing in a large pot.

Tuckeroo Tree Cupaniopsis anacardioides 2 | Plant care
Tuckeroo tree berries

Choosing a location and preparing the soil

Tuckeroo trees are not too fussy when it comes to the soil that they live in. However, if you want to give your tree the best start, choose well-drained and sandy soil as this is what the tree prefers most. 

These trees will also handle growing in clay soils as long as they are free-draining. To that end, incorporate some compost or other organic matter into the soil and add some Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver.

Choose a sunny or partly shaded spot in your garden to plant your tuckeroo tree.

How to plant your tuckeroo tree

Create a planting hole that is twice as wide and as deep as the tree’s root ball. When you remove the tree from its pot, try not to disturb the roots too much.

hole for tree | Plant care
Your hole should be twice the size of the root ball

Place the tree into the planting hole and backfill it with soil. Firm the soil down gently around the base of the plant.

Create a moat around the perimeter of the tree and fill it with water. This ensures that the water is contained until it can soak down to where the roots of the tree are. Adequate watering at this stage helps to settle the soil around the roots.

Once your tree is planted, add some mulch to the top of the soil. Woodchips are good for this.

How to care for your tuckeroo tree

Tuckeroo trees are fairly low-maintenance which is why they’re popular for planting in public areas and streetscapes.

Tuckeroo Tree Cupaniopsis anacardioides 1 | Plant care
Tuckeroo trees

While your tree is getting established, you want to ensure that it gets enough water to sustain healthy growth. Watering once a week during dry spells should be enough.

Once the tree has become established, it shouldn’t need any supplementary watering unless your area is going through a drought.

To keep your tree growing actively and flowering profusely, feed with an organic fertiliser twice a year in spring and autumn.

I haven’t been able to find any research confirming that this tree is sensitive to phosphorus, but to be on the safe side, select a low-phosphorus fertiliser that is designed for Australian natives. Examples include those made by Terrra Firma, or other organic fertilisers such as Charlie Carp or Dynamic Lifter.

You can also give the tree a light prune after it has finished flowering in order to maintain its shape and promote new growth.

Problems, pests and diseases

This Australian native tree is hardy and not prone to many pests or diseases.

However, keep a lookout for borers when the tree is still young. A healthy and well-cared-for tree is going to be less susceptible to borer attack than one that is under stress.

To identify a problem with borers, look for tiny holes in the tree branches and the trunk. You might also see signs of sawdust around the tree. The best way to treat your tree for borers is to remove the branches that are affected.

For more severe infestations, it’s best to engage an arborist to inspect your tree and recommend a treatment. 

Once again, if your tree is healthy and actively growing, borers shouldn’t be a problem.

How to grow a tuckeroo tree in a pot

Because tuckeroo trees are not too large and have non-invasive root systems, they can also be successfully grown in pots. This means that they are ideal for brightening up your outdoor area or placing in a nice sunny spot near your front door.

You want to choose a large pot for your tuckeroo tree that is around twice the size of the rootball of the tree. Make sure that the pot has adequate drainage holes. 

Use a quality potting mix to fill the pot with. When planting the tree in the pot, try not to disturb the roots. Once your tree is planted in the pot, water well and add some woodchips to the surface of the soil to act as mulch.

Like trees planted in the ground, your potted tuckeroo tree will benefit from a regular feed in spring and autumn. A slow-release fertiliser low in phosphorus is best.

It’s also important to remember that plants in pots will dry out much faster than those grown in the ground. Therefore, you want to water your potted tuckeroo tree whenever the top 5 cm of the soil feels dry to the touch. 

You can also give your potted tuckeroo tree a light prune after it’s finished flowering to maintain a compact growth habit and to encourage flowering in the following year.

Tuckeroo Tree Cupaniopsis anacardioides 3 | Plant care
Tuckeroo tree berries

Is tuckeroo tree fruit edible?

While tuckeroo tree fruit is thought to be edible, the consensus appears to be that it’s not worth the effort.

While this study reports that the berries are not only edible but are rich in antioxidants, Deane from Eat The Weeds said “I found it nearly tasteless but it burns my mouth and upsets my stomach”.

FAQ

Is the Tuckeroo tree fast growing?

The tuckeroo tree is considered to be a fast-growing tree. They generally live for 50 – 60 years.

Do Tuckeroo trees have invasive roots?

No, tuckeroo trees do not have invasive roots which makes them ideal for planting near homes and other structures.

How big do Tuckeroo trees grow?

Tuckeroo trees can reach a height and width of around 8 metres. This makes them ideal for street planting and they also make excellent shade trees with their lovely dark green canopy.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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4 thoughts on “Grow Guide: Tuckeroo Tree (<em>Cupaniopsis anacardioides</em>)”

  1. Hi there,
    Thanks for the article. We moved recently to the Sunshine Coast and have several (what I believe are) Tuckeroo Trees. One seems unhealthy with leaves turning yellow, looks like yellow dots all over the leaves.
    I have started with dynamic lifter 3 months ago and a fertilizer for Australian natives. The tree trunk is not covered with mulch. Any further information to bring it back to a healthy tree would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Anette

    Reply
    • Hi Anette

      Yellow spots on the leaves could be indication of some type of disease or pest problem. I would suggest that you take a couple of leaves to your local garden centre or nursery so the knowledgeable staff can help you out.

      Reply
    • Hi Fabio

      It’s difficult to recommend a spray without knowing what pest you’re dealing with. If you can catch one of the culprits or even take leaf or a photo to your local garden centre or nursery, they should be able to help.

      Reply

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