Sunday, June 6, 2010

Red Flames In the Ugly Green

I was on the highway when this flamboyant display of flowers on the man made green carpet caught my attention.

Woooww... it is the time of the year for this striking red tree to flower.

This deciduous tree with an umbrella crown with vermilion flowers and bright green foliage is Delonix Regia. 

 Delonix derived from the Greek delos meaning conspicuous and onux meaning a claw, referring to the claw-like petals.

It has many common names such as flame of the forest, flame tree, royal poinciana, peacock flower or flamboyant tree. 

An Austrian botanist, Wenzel Bojer discovered this tree in Madagascar in 1820 who then introduced it to Mauritius before it has been grown throughout the tropics. Unfortunately, this tree native of Madagascar where it is now almost extinct in the wild. Since this species of tree is growing very well in many places, I wonder if someone will reintroduce this plant back to its place of origin. 

This flamboyant tree can be an invasive species by having superficial roots that competes successfully with neighbouring shrubs and flowering plants. It is recommended to be planted away from other plants in the gardens. 

Seed pods keep hanging until they are dropped by wind currents, where they rot on the ground releasing the seeds.

These wasps partying among the scented flowers

I think this landscaper has made a good choice by planting this tree on this ugly golf course. At least it brightens the man made green carpet. Since this area has been invaded by homosapiens to build golf course, does it matter if this tree is planted to invade other plants?

1. Dr Wee Yeow Chin. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: a selection for urban planting (pp. 32-33). Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing.



  1. I have one grown outside my house for the past 18 years or so but it has not flowered!! Reason being other trees have overshadowed it. Now the other trees have been pruned back and it's looking better. Wait and see...

  2. Hi Wchinner,

    Good post of a common ornamental plant! :)

    A great underlying message: Madagascar's forests are far from what's portrayed in the animated film with the same name. In fact, it has a shocking 90% deforestation! A frightening prospect Malaysia will also be facing probably less than a decade down the road....(UNESCAP 2009 Statistics indicate more than 80% loss of primary forests locally)

    On another matter, I'd like to share with you an interesting ornamental plant that is the Bungor Langkawi or Lagerstroemia langkawiensis- a Langkawi endemic now made into a popular roadside plant on the mainland. It's flowers have been compared to that of the "sakura" of NE Asia. I hope it'll not be following Royal Poinciana's path too, in Langkawi.....

    At the meantime, keep blogging and happy nature-exploring!

    Best wishes,

  3. Hi YM Monyet King;
    Thank you.

    Hi Keats The Sunshine Girl;
    18 years and not flowering still!! According to this link:

    this species of tree is supposedly to flower in its fourth or fifth year. After reading the link and from what i had understood is that this tree would be more productive if it is growing in an exposed area rather than shaded. It does very well in sandy condition.

    Good that you now had pruned the other surrounding trees. What about the soil condition?

    Good luck to your tree.

  4. Hi JK;
    Many thanks for sharing.

    Yes, you are very right there about the only species of tree endemic to Langkawi - Lagerstroemia Langkawiensis. I have seen it in Datai, at least it is still in the rainforest setting for now.

    I hope so too that the fate of this endemic tree will not be similar to Delonix Regia.

    Btw, Langkawi city councils and development authorities here have very poor sense of conserving very old trees. Please read this dispute:

  5. I happened to see this Tree as well on May 2010 on my way to the incinerator site. Good Snap

  6. Thank you for your article. I was trying to identify a tree in my office garden before I made a post that included a photo of it and I came across your site which helped me to identify it.

    My photo:

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Simon Loftus,
      You are most welcome and thank you for dropping by your kind comments. I am glad that my blog here serves a purpose :)


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