African Tulip Tree
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African Tulip Tree
ntroduced Photo: Edward Swartz
Common name: African tulip tree, Fountaintree • Hindi: Rugtoora रगतूरा• Tamil: Patadi • Bengali: Rudrapalash • Kannada: ಜೀರ್ಕೊೞವಿಕಾಯಿ, ಜೀರ್ಕೊಳವಿಕಾಯಿ Jeerkolavi kaayi, ನೀರುಕಾಯಿ Neeru kaayi, ಉಚ್ಚೆಕಾಯಿ Ucche kaayi
Botanical name: Spathodea campanulata      Family: Bignoniaceae (Jacaranda family)

One of the world's most spectacular flowering trees, African tulip tree is a large upright tree with glossy deep green pinnate leaves and glorious orange scarlet flowers. It may grow to 80 ft on an ideal site, but most specimens are much smaller. The tree has a stout, tapering, somewhat buttressed trunk covered in warty light gray bark. The lateral branches are short and thick. The 1-2 ft long opposite leaves, which emerge a bronzy color, are massed at the ends of the branches. They are composed of 5-19 deeply veined oval leaflets. The horn shaped velvety olive buds appear in upturned whorls at the branch tips. A few at a time, the buds of the lowest tier bend outward and open into big crinkled red orange tuliplike bells with red streaked gold throats, frilly yellow edges, and four brown-anthered stamens in the center. They are followed by 5-10 in green brown fingerlike pods pointing upwards and outwards above the foliage. Each of these pods contains about 500 tissue papery seeds. The tree flowers in spurts all through the growing season, but peak bloom is usually in the spring.

Photographs from Tiruvannamali, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore & Maharashtra.

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