The fiddlewood is a lovely West Indian native tree grown for its attractive foliage and fragrant flowers. Both the genus name citharexylum (from the Greek – kithara, lyre, and xylon, wood) and the common name of fiddlewood refer to the use of the tree’s timber to make sounding boards for musical instruments.

Plant details

Common name: Fiddlewood

Botanic name: Citharexylum spinosum

Description: Fast growing tree to 10-12m (30-40′). In spring the bright green leaves turn an unusual salmon-orange colour, and in cooler areas about half the foliage falls. In tropical climates fiddlewoods do not lose as many leaves. Creamy white sprays of perfumed flowers appear at the branch tips from about midsummer to early winter. 

Best climate: Tropical and subtropical zones, and also warm microclimates in cooler areas with protection from frost when young.

Good points:

fast growing screen tree
lush, shiny leaves
attractive salmon-orange foliage colour in spring
sweetly perfumed flowers
relatively pest and disease free


the tree is semi deciduous in cooler climates
when the thousands of tiny flowers die they drop on the ground and make a mess
fiddlewood foliage is very dense and can overshade neighbouring properties


Fiddlewoods prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade. They like a well drained soil enriched with organic matter. Water well particularly in dry times, and mulch to conserve moisture through summer. Apply a complete fertiliser in spring.

Getting started:

This tree can be grown from seed or semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late spring.
Plants are available in spring and summer but may be harder to find during winter. Expect to pay around $7 for 140mm (5 1/2″) pots and $12-$14 for 200mm (8″) pots.