African Tulip Tree
Spathodea campanulata – African Tulip Tree
Other Common Names: Fireball, Flame of the Forest, Fountain Tree, African Tuliptree, Flame Tree
Spathodea campanulata is a flowering plant that is native to Africa’s tropical dry forests. It belongs to the Bignoniaceae family and is commonly known as Nandi Flame, Pichkari, Fountain Tree, or African Tulip Tree. It is usually grown in the tropics as an ornamental tree because of its appeal.
The African Tulip Tree grows between 7 to 25 meters or 23 to 82 feet tall. In some cases, it can even grow as tall as 35 feet, making it a large tree. It has a stout trunk, reaching up to 175 centimeters in diameter and thick branches that have small, white lenticels or raised pores.
The glossy green leaves of the tree are widely diverging and are usually opposite. They can grow up to 50 centimeters long. The leaves also consist of ovate or broadly elliptic leaflets and have principal veins on either side.
It is considered as an ornamental tree because the flowers are quite appealing with their reddish-orange to crimson colors. The flowers are campanulate or shaped like a bell and have the ability to contain water. That is why children often play with it and use it to squirt water. They also attract many species of birds since they can hold rain and dew because of their shape.
Birds, such as different types of hummingbirds love the nectars of the African Tulip flowers. Aside from the nectar, the soft wood of the tree is also used by hole-building birds, such as barbets, for nesting.
In some places though, such as Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Hawaii, the African Tulip Tree is considered as an invasive species.