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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Royal poinciana can reach 50 feet in height

By Staff | May 25, 2016

PHOTO BY ANITA FORCE MARSHALL Royal Poinciana.

Plant Subject: Royal Poinciana Tree (Delonix regia)

First impression: Four vibrant, deep orange long frilly petals that remind me of fancy sugar spoons. A larger fifth petal is colored in white, yellow with dark orange spots. Several long slender filaments are nestled in the middle of the bloom, and terminate in five orange bracs. The density of blooms makes gazing at this flower laden massive tree quite breathtaking. Architecturally gorgeous bones with grand girthed limbs and a substantial trunk ending with a cavernous root flare. Take a step back and look up, you can help, but swoon over the crme-de-le-crme of tropical flowering trees in full bloom in your garden.

Upon further investigation: Delonix includes approximately 10 species of showy flowering trees. Our royal poinciana is a non native species, whose origin is from Madagascar and is considered the quintessential of flowering trees. It is a super large tree that can reach the height of 40-50 feet, with a natural umbrella like crown even at a distance will draw your eye to it.

Our star is one of those deciduous trees that lose its leaves in order to bloom. Even without blossoms it’s attractive, with light green fern-like double pinnate leaves contrasting the soft gray smooth bark. The bark actually reminds me of an elephants hide. It has wrinkles and angles that taken out of context would make you think you were looking at a pachyderm. The trunk is grand in girth and is supported by a very unique and tentacle-like root system.

April and May can be its pre flowering stage and it can appear somewhat bare for about one week. During this time I am constantly informing people that yes this tree is alive, and its flowers will begin to emerge in or around the months of May and June. Flowers are unusual, with four ladle shaped sizzling orange petals and one upright slightly larger petal colored yellow and white dappled with dark orange dots. Look closely at this larger brighter petal (sometimes called the peacock feather) for the etched yellow veins. These color cues are guides for our pollinators.

These nectar guides show pollinators where to look for food/nectar. Some nectar guides may be visible only under ultraviolet light, of which bees and insects can see. The guides will lead them to the sweet reward and their pollen laden bodies to the flowers carpels. Viola’- pollination! Isn’t Mother Nature the smartest lady you know?

The seed pods also add to the interest in this tree. They are extremely long (24 inches) and flat in a dark chocolate brown color. Interesting trivia: They are often referred to as mother-in-laws tongues, because they are noisy and long. Gee, mother-in-laws are very misunderstood! They are also used for their rattle as musical instruments. A little impromptu music and dancing may be just what you need in your garden.

Pros:

Huge flowers with lots of blossoms

Attractive when blooming or non blooming

Massive size will fill a large space

Full sun

Blooming brings in the pollinators

Non invasive

May inspire you to join a musical band with your avant-garde instrument

Cons:

Daily clean up flowers and seedpods, which are messy and large

Young poinciana’s are plentiful

May grow tired of ooh’s and aah’s outside your window

Non native

Conclusion: Everyone falls in love with royals poinciana’s; do you need a little love in your life? No need to recharge your pacemaker, just revive that little thump in your heart. You got to see, this one of a kind floral display in a tropical eye catching SWF location.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!