Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Royal Poinciana

It's the last day of November, and while the local weather is mild, the onset of winter always has TPP longing for the tropics a bit.  So here's a fabulous bit of the tropics, and what may well be the most fantastic of all ornamental flowering trees, the royal poinciana (Delonix regia, Fabaceae).  This is a classic rain tree.  First at maturity the tree has a remarkably broad, spreading, and low crown, clearly not the form of a forest tree, but one from an open, seasonally dry savanna.  While native to Madagascar, where it's endangered in the wild, it's cultivars are found as UTF (ubiquitous tropical flora).  Second, rain trees tend to be big bang flowerers with a large number of flowers open all at once making for a flamboyant display.  Although the scale makes this tree look really low to the ground, you can easily walk under its branches with no danger of bonking your head.  In Queensland a colleague had one of these that covered the whole lawn in front of his house.  Good thing there is no commandment to not covet your neighbors' trees.   

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