Description from Flora of China
Trees. Branches verticillate and spreading. Leaves apically clustered, palmately 7-9-foliolate; stipules arrow-shaped, caducous; petiole 10-20 cm; leaflet blades elliptic-lanceolate, 10-15 × 3-5 cm, at first pilose, glabrescent when mature, base cuneate, margin entire, apex long acuminate or caudate. Inflorescence apical on branchlets, paniculate, erect, many-flowered. Pedicels shorter than flowers. Epicalyx lobes minute. Calyx purple-red, ca. 12 mm, divided nearly to base, lobes elliptic-lanceolate, abaxially yellowish brown pubescent, adaxially upper half white villous. Male flowers: stamens 12-15, capitate. Female flowers: carpels 5, hairy. Style curved; stigma 5-divided. Follicle ellipsoid and boat-shaped, 5-8 cm, woody, nearly glabrous, apex acute into beak, 10-15-seeded. Seeds black, ellipsoid, ca. 1.5 cm, smooth. Fl. Apr-May.
Sterculia foetida seems to be a rather weedy species of uncertain origin. The seeds are edible after toasting and taste like chestnuts (Castanea sativa Miller); they also contain an oil that is used medicinally, while the timber is used for making furniture and the bark for rope.
Cultivated. Guangdong (Guangzhou), Guangxi, S Hainan (Sanya) [Cambodia, India, Indonesia, ?Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam; native to India, now cultivated in tropical Africa, N Australia, and South America].