Spathodea campanulata

I’m on vacation, so a few of the entries to the end of February will be short. — Daniel.

Thank you to brahea22@Flickr for sharing today’s photograph with us (original via Flickr BPotD Pool). Much appreciated!

Spathodea campanulata is a native of tropical Africa, but has been planted in tropical areas around the world. This has led to a number of common names, with African tulip tree and fountain tree seemingly the most often used in English.

The reason for pantropical spread and planting seems to have been ornamental value. Unfortunately, this species has also been nominated as one of the “world’s 100 worst invaders“. You can get an idea of its omnipresence in Hawaii (and many other photographs) through the Plants of Hawaii site.

Also, do check out the winged seeds of Spathodea campanulata (or in this page on the Bignoniaceae). Very nifty. Wikipedia alludes to some of the economic (and not so economic) uses of the species.

Spathodea campanulata

15 responses to “Spathodea campanulata”

  1. annie morgan

    Pity it’s so invasive, it’s so very attractive.
    Happy vacation!

  2. Carol Ross

    It seems contradictory that the seeds could be both edible and poisonous, as in this text:
    The seeds are edible. In Singapore the timber is used for making paper. In West Africa the wood is used to make drums and blacksmith’s bellows. The bark, flowers and leaves are also used in traditional medicine in its native home range. (Tan, 2001)
    The wood is difficult to burn and so the tree can be used in fire resistant landscaping. Buds contain liquid that will squirt out if they are squeezed or pierced, which children enjoy using as water pistols. African hunters are said to have boiled the seeds to extract arrow poison. ( L.C. Copyright 1996 – 2002)”

  3. girish mohan p k

    Sittting in this corner of the world in India in Kerala I was waiting for a plant that is seen in my sarroundings in the photo series.At last came spathodia the very same tree found in our roadsides and public places here in kerala…but all of them were planted here as part of the afforestation programmes (“vanamahotsava”) by the government.So it`s very sure that Spathodia companulata is an invasive species everywhere….it`s beautiful flowers and it`s shining colour will make it a world citizen.

  4. Monique Reed
  5. Quin

    Is’nt it true that many botanicals can be very useful in careful quantities and very harmful in greater amounts? Here’s to the healers who know best from foolish!

  6. JAPrufrock

    I’m not sure how invasive it really is in typical tropical forest habitats. I have never seen it inside a tropical forest in Costa Rica, where I have been working in conservation for 30+ years. In CR it’s commonly planted along roadsides, particularly along the main highway leading into San Jose.

  7. elizabeth a airhart

    fine write up
    i live in florida this tree is
    very much part of our land scapes
    thank you all

  8. Eric in SF

    JAPrufrock – I noticed this species naturalized on Maui – it was a fairly common sight on the Road to Hana once you learn to recognize the very distinctive seed capsules.

  9. chungii.v

    It’s a don’t sell down here in warmer parts of Australia, classed as a weed of bushlands, parklands and unkept areas. It’s cool to see this here as I saw one today in flower driving to Brisbane. In the middle of our bushy shrubland the strong contrasting colour of the flowers stood out even at 120km/hr :}

  10. Deborah Lievens

    Are these the “Flame Trees of Thika” from the novel by Elspeth Huxley?

  11. Marcus

    The undeveloped flowers at the centre of the inflorescence are full of a watery fluid. As kids we used to nip off the tips and squeeze them like water pistols.

  12. Denis

    I’m not sure who the quote is attributable to, but “the dose makes the poison” is quite true. Many plants can do nasty things raw, but are quite edible if properly prepared.

  13. preethi .j

    i was looking for Spathodea campanulata plant in chennai but still i didn’t crossed at all . i think that it is a rare plant in chennai city

  14. seine wisle

    only yesterday my neighbour and I spotted a slender tall tree with four or five orange petals at the top. This tree is in the gully area. Looking at it through our binoculars it seem to fit the description of the spathodea campanulata.I F IT IS THAT INVASIVE WHY ARE WE NOT SEEING MORE ? it is the first time we are seeing it.Can we see a full length picture of one please? We have no digital cameras.We are enthusiastic plant and garden lovers.Thank you.

  15. Daniel Mosquin

    It might not be a huge problem in Barbados, Seine — definitely an issue in Hawaii though. Links to additional photographs are provided in the text with the entry.

Leave a Reply