Clusia is a genus from the family of Clusiaceae. This genus has about 150 species, and it is a native of the tropics and sub-tropics of the United States of America. The Bahamas, Florida Keys, and the West Indies are the natural habitat of the genus. This genus consists of shrubs, vines, and trees that possess evergreen characteristics. These species grow to a maximum height of 50 feet (15 m).
In some species of Clusia, the flowers possess no stamen and reproduce without any male reproductive organ. The roots of some species are also toxic, aggressive, and competitive, and therefore fight very well for water against difficult odds. Drought-like conditions can be borne by these plants for a long time. The entire genus was named after a well-known botanist, Carolus Clusius, who did well-respected work in the field of botany during the 16th century. He lived in the Netherlands, and all botanical names that start with Clus are actually named after him.
A popular species belonging to the genus, the Clusia rosea, has broad leaves that are tough like leather, yet they have a very smooth texture. Its flowers are white, yellow, or pink with approximately four to nine petals. The fruit of this plant has a similar texture as the leaves, and it is brown-green in color with many red, lumpy seeds inside. This fruit is highly poisonous in nature, and it can cause great harm to humans and animals alike. These plants are commonly used in dry flower decorations.
The Clusia rosea tree is also referred to as the autograph or signature tree. Its an evergreen tree that provides ample shade and protection; however, it is most known for the fact that any writing on the leaves of this tree remains etched permanently on its leathery surface. In some countries, these leaves are used as playing cards by printing numbers on them. At least one other species, Clusia major, is also called an autograph tree and used to make playing cards.
Some hardy species of the genus, such as Clusia rosea, spread quickly, usually taking over the entire surrounding area. If they grow on another tree, they rapidly overpower the host and eventually take over completely. The only way the massive spread can be curtailed is by early detection and pulling out the plants while they are still small. If the trees have grown to maturity, it is very difficult to control the situation and stop rapid reproduction.