African Tulip tree, Flame-of-the-forest, Spathodea Campanulata

tree of the family Bignoniaceae (Catalpa, Jacaranda)

Etymology: its name, African tulip tree comes from its flower, in the form of tulip. Its Latin name comes from Greek " spathê " which means spatula referring to the form of the corolla.
Origin: Equatorial Africa, in tropical and subtropic zone. It is also found in Egypt, in the Canary Islands and in Central America.
Habitat: the African Tulip Tree grows on a well drained, sour or neutral rich, cool soil. It tolerates seaside environments. It appreciates sunny position and fears the wind.
Hardiness: zone 11 (he fears frost).
Growth: fast.
Height: 20 m tall.
Shape: globose crown.
Right, sometimes ramified trunk.
Bark: smooth, green grey.
Persistent or semi-persistent foliage (according to climate) dark, bright green. Big leaves (30 - 40 cm), opposite, imparipinnate in 7-19 oval leaflets - acuminate, wavy margin. The young leaves are bronze green.
Flowers: Big flowers (from 7 to 13 cm long), campanulated corolla with 5 toothed and wavy, rounded lobes, 4 stamens, tough calyx, disposed in final and flat racemes, of scarlet-orange red colour with gold yellow rim. They appear from spring to summer. The corolla is swollen in external part. Inflorescences open from the outside to the inside for a period of 3-4 days. The buds are fluffy and green-bronze, when pressed, drops of water appear. Flowers are nectariferous.
Fruits: long brown capsules, dehiscent, oblong (20 cm), endowed with a big quantity of seeds with translucent wings which have a form of heart and scatter in the wind.
Propagation: by seedling or cutting of semi-woody stem or of root segments. The African Tulip Tree has tendency to suckers and can become intrusive.
Its wood is very brittle. It is used by the African marabous for the sculpture of amulets. Newly cut, the wood has a garlic smell. It burns hardly.
The bark, flowers and seeds, are used in African traditional medicine: flowers would have properties to treat skin infections and seeds are traditionally used to poison arrows.


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