PLANT OF THE WEEK: Royal Poinciana

By on August 4, 2011.

Now that Landscape Invocation has left Gainesville, Fl and spread up and down the eastern seaboard. The P.O.W. posts will reflect our new homes in Washington D.C,  Atlanta, and South Florida . Here’s an introduction to the famed and flamboyant Royal Poinciana from SoFlo.

Delonix regia – Named after  a 17th century French West Indies governor, also called Flame Tree or Flamboyant Tree, it is well known all over the tropics and claimed as one of the most beautiful trees in the world when in full summer bloom.

Size/Habit/Lifetime:  Grows to 40 feet tall and capable of an equal spread. Often found as a medium to large ornamental tree with a wide, low canopy. Fast growing and fine texture like other Legume species.

Culture: Limited to tropical zones 10-12. Commonly deciduous during drought and frost, semi-evergreen in Florida. Prefers full sun, accepting of light shade. Tolerant of any soil as long as it is well drained with good drought and salt tolerance.

Leaf/Stem: Even, bi-pinnately compound leaves (see picture below) to 24″ long with 20-40 leaflets. Color medium to light green. Stems and bark gray-brown, mostly smooth.

Flower/Fruit: Flowers vary orange-red to deep scarlet but always vibrant and stunning. Flowers to 4″ across in terminal clusters. Very showy blooms anywhere from May-August depending on moisture. Fruit is a large, strap-like pod measuring up to 2 feet long and 3″ wide. Splitting when mature to expose dozens of seeds. Pods can double as natures tambourine when dried and shaken.

Use: Uncontested as a specimen in a open field. Street side plantings to be given adequate room and should be intermixed with evergreen trees. Offers inspiring color and wonderful canopy in the summer heat.

Notable Facts:  Genus name Delonix, is Greek for long-clawed petals (delos= conspicuous;  onux= a claw). The species name, regia, refers to ‘royal’  in Latin. It is endemic, meaning it is only found in one place naturally, and native to Madagascar, it has become naturalized in tropical U.S., the Caribbean, South America, South China, India, Polynesia and Australia.

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