AFRICAN TULIP TREES
All through the
tropics right now, especially in parks and along streets, there's a tree with dark green
leaves and large, red blossoms so showy that, even in a land of many gorgeously flowering
trees, your eyes gladden just to see it. You can behold one of ours at the right.
That's the African Tulip Tree, SPATHODEA CAMPANULATA, and it's really from Africa, but
planted worldwide in the tropics because of its beauty. Of course having a worldwide
distribution it's known by many names. Another English name is Santo Domingo Mahogany,
though it's not related to real Mahogany at all, being in a completely different family,
the Bignonia Family. In
Spanish sometimes it's called "Flor de Fuente," or "Fountain Flower,"
because the four-inch-long blossoms curve into a cup that can hold water for visiting
birds and insects. You can see a blossom in my hand at the left.
Besides its beauty, the tree is often planted because it's fast-growing and can be
reproduced from seeds, root suckers or cuttings. One problem with the tree is that its
branches are brittle, thus very susceptible to wind injury.