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Spathodea campanulata

Pronunciation: Spath-oh-dee-uh kam-pan-yoo-lah-tuh
Family: Bignoniaceae (bignonia family)
Synonym: Spathodea nilotica
Common Name: African tuliptree, flame of the forest, fountaintree, fireball, gabon tulip tree, fire tree
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 40-80'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • early spring
  • mid spring
  • late spring
  • repeat bloomer
Bloom Description: The horn shaped velvety olive buds appear in upturned whorls at the branch tips. A few at a time, the buds of the lowest tier bend outward and open into big crinkled red orange tuliplike bells with red streaked gold throats, frilly yellow edges, and four brown-anthered stamens in the center. They are followed by 5-10 in (12. 7-25. 4 cm) green brown fingerlike pods pointing upwards and outwards above the foliage. Each of these pods contains about 500 tissue papery seeds. The tree flowers in spurts all through the growing season, but peak bloom is usually in the spring. 'aurea' is a rare cultivar
Soil Type: This species loves rich soil, but puts up with just about anything with a little fertility to it, including limerock. It is not a beachfront plant, but will survive a bit of salinity. African tuliptrees need serious pruning after every freeze or windstorm. Gardeners in marginal regions should plan on growing this as a large ephemeral shrub and plant it in a sheltered place where it can be reached by ladders or bucket trucks for regular pruning and removal of dead branches.
Plant Perks:
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Attracts Hummingbirds
Propagation: In the wild, the flowers are pollinated by birds and bats and the seeds are dispersed by wind. In cultivation, african tuliptrees often are grown from seed, but seed production is erratic. New specimens can be started from tip cuttings, root cuttings, or suckers.
Native to: The rainforests of equatorial africa. It is widely planted throughout the tropics and has naturalized in many parts of the pacific. It favors moist habitats below 3,000 ft (914 m), but will grow on drier sites and thrives at up to 4,000 ft (1219 m). The biggest trees grow in moist, sheltered ravines.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - african tuliptrees are grown for shade, color and tropical effects. The wood is difficult to burn, so the tree is also valuable for fire resistant landscaping. The wood has been used for blacksmith's bellows and the like. The buds contain a liquid that will squirt out if they are squeezed or pierced and children enjoy using these as water pistols. They also enjoy playing with the boatlike open seed pods. In africa and haiti, the flowers are thought to have magical properties and the wood is used for witch doctors' wands.   this is one of the world's most spectacular flowering trees. It is also very fast growing. Young trees may put on 6 ft (0. 6 m) in height and 2 in (10. 2 m) in diameter per year and often begin blooming when they are only a few years oldwarning african tuliptrees have weak, brittle wood and tend to become hollow and drop large branches as they age, so they are easily shattered by high winds.
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Seed Photos
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