Selected Trees and Shrubs
Delonix regia, Common name: Flamboyant/Royal Poinciana/Flame Tree
Plant 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.
Uses: As a free standing colorful tree, it has no peer; it is a spectacular ornamental and shade tree in tropics; in Caribbean, pods are used for fuel and seeds for craft work.
Indigenous Legends: Tree was named for an 18th century governor of the French West Indies, M. de Poinci; in Spanish is sometimes referred to as Arbol de Fuego (Tree of Fire); in Central America is referred to as Malinche, after a beautiful young Indian woman of that name; Malinche is said to have been so beautiful that the comandante fell in love with her, and she persuaded him to spare her people from extermination at the hands of the conquistadors; tree is so loved in Miami (Florida) on account of its beauty that they have an annual festival to celebrate its flowering.
US National Tropical Botanical Gardens, (ntbg.org). Kalaheo, Hawaii, 2004
Dorothy P. Storer. Familiar Trees and Cultivated Plants of Jamaica. Macmillan, London 1964
Arlington A. James. Cabrits Plants and Their Uses. Forestry and Wildlife Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Dominica 1999
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