Delonix regia


Family: Belongs to the Caesalpiniaceae family; other family members include Golden Shower (Cassia fistula), Orchid Tree (Bauhinia variegata) and Barbados Pride (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).

Description: A magnificent, fast-growing, wide-spreading crown, umbrella-like tree that can be wider than its height, 9-15 m (30-50 ft) tall; is consistently voted among the top 5 most beautiful flowering trees in the world; leaves are elegant: they are lacy and fernlike, twice-pinnate, and 30-50 cm (12-20 in) long with 20-40 pairs of primary leaflets, each divided into 10-20 pairs of secondary leaflets; blooms in May to August in large, dense clusters that burst into scarlet-orange blossoms 10-13 cm (4-5 in) across, splashing hillsides as well as front yards in scarlet; the upper petal white or yellow in the centre with red streaks; (a yellow flowered variant also exists but is not as popular); dark brown pods are flat, swordlike and woody, up to 60 cm (24 in) long and 5 cm (2 in) wide, remaining on tree sometimes for a year or more; seeds are about 2.5 cm long (1 in ) by about 0.5 cm wide (0.2 in ), and very hard when dry.

Natural Habitat: Thrives in seasonally dry areas of tropics and sub-tropics; tolerates salty conditions in tropics and can be grown near coast, but not in openly exposed beach conditions; tolerates hard pruning and can be kept at a small size, and grown in greenhouses.

Origin and Distribution: Native of Madagascar in seasonally dry areas; is widely cultivated and may be seen adorning avenues, parks and estates in tropical cities in the Caribbean and throughout the world; cultivated and naturalized in dry areas of the west coast of Dominica.

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