Portia-tree, or seaside mahoe, is native to coastal tropical areas around the world. It grows naturally in thickets, coastal forests, and on the edges of mangroves; it is planted for ornament in beach houses, hotels, and parks. It reaches a height of 60 feet, with a trunk 2 feet in diameter. The leaves are up to 8 inches long. Flowers are up to 2 inches long, yellow at first, turning  red as they age. Fruit are up to 1.5 inches wide. It flowers and produces fruit throughout the year. The generic name means marvelous or divine, in reference to the color change exhibited by the flowers of some species of the genus. The species name refers to the similarity of its leaves with those of species of the genus Populus.

The photographed tree is in front of the Buildings and Ground Department nursery. There are other trees southwest and southeast of the Physics Building, the largest was planted by Manuel A. Pérez in 1976.

Thespesia populnea (Malvaceae)