Trees 2–12 m. Stems lepidote to glabrate when young. Leaves: stipules 3–7 mm; petiole mostly 2/3–1 times length of blade; blade 6–13 cm, apex acute or acuminate, venation palmate, with nectariferous zone near base of midrib. Inflorescences: flowers large. Pedicels erect, stout, shorter than subtending petiole; involucellar bractlets irregularly inserted, ligulate. Flowers: calyx 8–10 mm, subglabrous, minutely lepidote; petals 4–6 cm, punctate; staminal column pallid, ca. 1/2 length of petals, apically 5-dentate, glabrous; style exceeding stamens; stigmas decurrent. Capsules (3–)5-locular, 3–3.5 cm diam.. Seeds 8–9 mm. 2n = 24, 26.
Phenology: Flowering year-round.
Habitat: Littoral vegetation
Elevation: 0 m
Introduced; Fla., Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands (New Guinea), Australia, introduced also in Mexico (Veracruz), West Indies, n South America.
Thespesia populnea is sometimes grown as a shade tree, and has been found in coastal Florida from Brevard and Sarasota counties south to Monroe County, most commonly on the Florida Keys. The species is thought to be native to coastal areas of the Indian and Pacific oceans and widely introduced and naturalized in the New World. The capsules float and have distributed the seeds widely. It has been used widely for food, lumber, fiber, and medicine.