Field of Science

Beautiful but invasive pest - African Tulip Tree

 If any of you are foolish enough to think that TPP is leaving the tropics and returning to the polar vortex now visiting the upper Midwest with truly arctic temperatures then you're crazy.  TPP is certain that temperatures like that will freeze some of his plant collection.  But more on this later this spring. Here in Maui, it is "spring" of a sorts and one of the ornamental trees that is in flower is the African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata) a member of the Bignon family.  It has a big flowers that are bright orange.  It is a totally gaudy tree.  Supposedly perching birds visit these flower to get an interesting reward, a drink of water.  The flower buds are filled with water, and it you nip off the end of the calyx of an intact bud, and squeeze the base it will squirt out a stream.  Kids always know this trick.  The image shows that the flower is basically a cup.  A tree in flower has lots of flowers and flowers over a longish time.  Unfortunately in wetter areas, this tree is invasive along streams. And it has become a member of what TPP calls UTF (ubiquitous tropical flora).  It's certainly pretty, but what a pain.   

1 comment:

Katherine Wagner-Reiss said...

I am so glad that you posted this. I live in South Florida and I have a favorite Garden Guide Book which gives a blue ribbon to the African Tulip Tree; I've been on the lookout but I have never come across one, and I was wondering why since they are described as being so beautiful, and available in both orange/red and rarely all-yellow.
Now I know why. The weedy invasive tendency is too much of a downside ( and is mentioned in the small print of my Garden Book).
Internet search says I can see one at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami!