Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the December 3, 2007 Newsletter issued from Yerba Buena Clinic just outside Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, Chiapas, MÉXICO
about 1740 meters in elevation, ± LAT. 17° 11' 27"N, LONG. -92° 53' 35"W
AFRICAN TULIP TREES FLOWERING

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. Below, you can behold one ours.

Spathodea campanulata

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. Below, you can see a blossom in my hand.

Flower of Spathodea campanulata

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.