Family: Bignoniaceae; family also includes the Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana), Calabash (Crescentia cujete) and the Pouis (Tabebuia spp.).
Description: Large, handsome tree, growing to a height of up to 24 m (80 ft), though most specimens are smaller; stem tends to become hollow, dropping large branches as tree ages, and tree easily shattered by high winds; compound leaves up to 40 cm (16 in.) with up to 9 pairs of dark green 5-10 cm leaflets (2-4 in.), the terminal leaflet unpaired; large red flowers, with boat-shaped, brownish-hairy calyx , about 10 cm across (4 in.); born in circular whorls with collection of crowded buds in center of circle; flowers born on tips of branches all over tree, making tree strikingly handsome and conspicuous at a distance; tree flowers throughout the year but in Dominica flowering is particularly abundant December to March, when flowering trees dot hillsides with splashes of red; unopened flowers contain water which can be released in a squirt, like a water pistol when the tip is cut and pressure applied; boat-shaped pod-like fruit up to 45 cm long (18 in.) with laterally winged seeds; wings transparent.
Natural Habitat: Likes moist locations below 900 m (3,000 ft) but will grow on drier sites and thrives at up to 1200 m (4,000 ft); biggest trees grow in moist, sheltered ravines; propagation by seed, root suckers and cuttings.
Origin and Distribution: Native of West Africa; introduced to many parts of the world, including the Caribbean.