How to Trim Carrotwood Trees

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Prune your carrotwood tree as needed to preserve its function in the landscape.
Prune your carrotwood tree as needed to preserve its function in the landscape. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Carrotwood tree, known botanically as Cupaniopsis anacardioides, is a tropical evergreen hardwood that grows in USDA Zone 10A and 11. It is a midsize tree reaching 35 feet in height and spread at maturity. It is considered a noxious species in Florida, where it is banned because of its invasive tendency to overtake the native tree hammock. As a tropical evergreen, it has minimal trimming requirements once mature, save size control and the removal of crowded limbs. It takes its colloquial name from the bright apricot hue of the interior wood, which is dense and desirable for woodworking.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine-toothed pruning saw
  • Long-blade pruning shears
  • Ladder

Prune your carrotwood tree anytime during the year, as it is a tropical species and grows nearly year-round.

Trim away selected branches as needed to thin out the interior canopy, allowing sunlight to reach the soil below so that the lawn or other plants can grow. Choose branches that are growing in toward the trunk, those that are growing toward one another or any that may cross. Remove crowded branches that appear to create a congestion point and areas that are more densely branched than the rest of the canopy. When looking up into the canopy from the ground, the remaining limbs and major branches should splay out from the trunk in a pattern that is roughly evenly spaced. Use a fine-toothed pruning saw on any wood larger than 1/2 inch in diameter.

Reduce the spread of the canopy for aesthetic preference or to prevent entanglement with other plants or nearby structures. Trim back the terminal tips of the branches to the desired length. Work around the tree evenly, following the natural round form of the canopy to ensure a professional and pleasing result. Remove up to, but no more than, one-third of the canopy volume each year, as needed.

Cut back any dead, weak, cracked or broken branches or limbs that you see. Place the cuts back to the parent branch or down to the main trunk as needed to restore stability to the limb structure.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to the University of Florida, a carrotwood tree may not be introduced, possessed, moved or released anywhere in Florida without a permit.

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