Characteristics of a Flamboyant Tree (Delonix regia) in the Wild

Delonix regia
Flamboyant is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae family, which is native to Madagascar. This tree is famous for its fern-like leaves and beautiful flowers that range from orange to red during the summer.

During the flowering season, the flamboyant flowers cover almost all of the leaves and make the entire tree appear full of bright red or orange.

In many tropical countries, flamboyant trees are planted as ornamental trees and shrubs in roadside or city parks. In English, the flamboyant tree is called the Royal Poinciana, Flame of the Forest, or Flame Tree.

Originally a flamboyant tree endemic to the dry forests of Madagascar, but has spread to tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. In the wild, the flamboyant tree is threatened with extinction but is cultivated widely elsewhere and is considered valuable in many areas.

In addition to its ornamental value, the flamboyant tree is a useful shade tree in tropical conditions, as it grows to a height of 10 meters, but can reach a maximum height of 15 meters with dense foliage and forms a broad canopy to provide shade underneath.

In areas with a pronounced dry season, flamboyant trees shed their leaves during long dry seasons or dry soils. Therefore, flamboyant trees are also often called semi-evergreen trees.

FLAMBOYAN TREE HISTORY
In Kerala, India, the flamboyant tree is called Kaalvarippoo which means “Calvary Flower”. There is a popular belief among the Christians of Saint Thomas from Kerala that when Jesus was crucified, there was a small flamboyant tree near His Cross. It is believed that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed on the flowers of the flamboyant tree and that is what makes flamboyant flowers red. It is also known as “Vaaga” in many parts of Kerala.

 
The flamboyant flower is the national flower of St. Kitts and Nevis, and in May 2018 the flamboyant tree was adopted by the city of Key West as its national tree.

In Malaysia, the flamboyance is known as “Semarak Api”, which has become an icon of the cities of Sepang and Selangor in Malaysia.

 

Characteristics of Flamboyant Leaf

Delonix regia Leaf
Source : flickr.com/Ben Caledonia

The leaves are compound, double pinnate, have hair, and are bright green. Each leaf is 30-50 cm long containing 20-40 pairs of primary leaflets or pinnae, each divided into 10-20 pairs of secondary leaflets or pinnules.

 

Characteristics of Flamboyant Flower

Delonix regia Flower
Source : flickr.com/Kosen Ishikawa

Flamboyant flowers are large, with four red or orange petals spreading up to 8 cm, and fifth erect petals are called standard, which is slightly larger and appears in yellow and white.

 

Characteristics of Flamboyant Fruit

Delonix regia Fruit
Source : flickr.com/SandraHauser

The pods are green and soft, when young they are green and turn brown when ripe. Each fruit can be up to 60 cm long and 5 cm wide. The seeds are small, and the average weight is about 0.4 grams.

 

Characteristics of Flamboyant Tree

Delonix regia Tree
Source : flickr.com/ADILSON LOPES GARCIA

Flamboyant can grow as a medium and wide tree, forming a broad canopy at a maximum height of 10-15 meters.

The tree needs a tropical or cool climate, but it can also thrive in drought conditions.

Flamboyant trees themselves prefer sandy soils with open areas that have lots of organic matter. It does not like sticky or thick soils like clay, and will only flower in abundance when grown on dry soil.

 
HOW TO CULTIVATE FLAMBOYANT TREE

The method of propagation of a flamboyant tree is by seedling. However, less common methods, such as stem cuttings, can also be used to cultivate this tree.

1. Seedlings – Seeds are soaked in warm water for at least 24 hours, and planted in warm, moist soil in semi-shaded or shaded conditions. After a few days, the seedlings grow quickly and can reach 30 cm in a few weeks under ideal conditions.

2. Cuttings – Branches are cut 30 cm long and planted in pots or polybags. This method is slower than seedling propagation (it may take several months for the stems to take root) but the cultivator is preferable to cuttings.

As such, cuttings are a common flamboyant tree propagation method for cultivation, particularly for the rarer yellow-flowered flamboyant tree varieties.

 

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