Characteristics of Poinciana Tree (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) in the Wild

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
The Poinciana or Peacock flower is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae family, which is native to the tropics of America. Many say that this plant is probably native to the West Indies, but its exact origin is still unknown due to its widespread cultivation.

Common names in various countries to refer to this tree include Red Bird of Paradise, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Pride of Barbados, Flos Pavonis, Flamboyant-de-jardin, and ‘ohai ali’i.

The flower is the national flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados and is depicted in the left and right corner of Queen Elizabeth II’s Barbadian flag.

HISTORY OF POINCIANA

Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th-century artist, discovered this plant in the Dutch colony of Suriname. In his work, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, Merian notes that African slaves and indigenous Indians used Poinciana as an abortionist in their traditional medicinal practices. Maria wrote:

“Indians, who were not treated well by the Dutch, used the seeds [this plant] to abort so that their children would not become slaves like them. Black slaves from Guinea and Angola demanded to be treated well, threatening to refuse to have children.”

 
Apart from the story of Maria Sibylla Merian, whole parts of the Poinciana tree are also used by Indians in America in traditional medicine as an abortion substance and for the suicide of enslaved people.

 

Characteristics of Poinciana Leaf

Caesalpinia pulcherrima Leaf
Sumber : flickr.com/Jake Teo

The leaves are bipinnate, 20-40 cm long containing 3-10 pairs of pinnae leaves, each leaflet is 15-25 mm long and 10-15 mm wide.

 

Characteristics of Poinciana Flower

Caesalpinia pulcherrima Flower
Source : flickr.com/Tropic~7

The flowers grow in the racial form up to 20 cm, each of which has yellow, orange, or red petals.

 

Characteristics of Poinciana Fruit

Caesalpinia pulcherrima Fruit
Source : flickr.com/Jake Teo

The pods are pods, 6-12 cm long, green when young and brown when ripe. The seeds are very poisonous.

 

Characteristics of Poinciana Tree

Caesalpinia pulcherrima Tree
Source : flickr.com/Yeoh Yi Shuen

Poinciana trees grow to form shrubs or small trees as high as 2-3 meters. In cold climates, this tree can grow larger and semi-evergreen. In Hawaii, the tree grows to more than 5 meters.

Poinciana can grow in tropical and subtropical climates but is very sensitive to frost.

Currently, Poinciana is a tree that is widely cultivated for ornamental trees in house yards or roadside shrubs.

The Poinciana tree has been awarded the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

 

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