From WAY Over There-
Madagascar Trees-
Royal Poinciana


An impressive yellow Royal Poinciana

Yellow D. regia

One of the grandest flowering trees in existence, the Royal Poinciana is a statement in the landscape no matter where it is grown. Now fairly rare in its native country, it is possible that there are more Poincianas in the USA and some subtropical countries than in Madagascar. I saw the first Royal Flamboyant 28 years ago in Fort Myers, Florida as a horticulture student. It was hard to stop staring at its mantle of brilliant flowers. I had no idea then that different varieties existed, much less  varieties of varieties. There are several different color forms of the species regia.  I have seen 8 or 10 distinct color variants in Miami, most notably the 3 different yellow varieties, in addition to the 'Smathers Orange' just across the road from Pinecrest gardens, and a brilliant vermilion variety.

This tree grows naturally to grand dimensions, but can be grown in a fairly compact area if it gets trimmed back every few years. It will easily get to 40 feet across and equally tall if allowed to. I have some majestic specimens close to 90 feet across and 60 feet tall. Like many Legume-family flowering trees, it likes a lot of sunshine and good soil drainage, with virtually no water or fertilizer in the dry months. Some of the best-flowered trees are in communities or parks with no irrigation or fertilizer at all, just our native wet-dry climate. The trees look scruffy and misshapen, but when they flower they are covered with a blanket of gorgeous flowers. These trees need a seasonal dry period to initiate flowering, and our South Florida climate is nearly perfect for their needs.

'Smathers Orange'

bright red Royal Poinciana

There are lots of variations in any plant that propagates by seed, and the Royal Poinciana is no exception. The flower colors can vary with weather to a degree as well. While a red poinciana will not change to a yellow one if the weather is very warm, I have seen particular trees have richer colors after a cool and very dry winter. Within the southeast coast of Florida, I wonder what we could see  from an airplane on a good Poinciana year ? The range of colors would be striking, and a glorious sight in any definition. These are marvelous and valuable trees when planted in the right place, tended for a few years when establishing in a new site, and allowed to grow to full adult size.Use this tree where is can be seen and enjoyed from a distance, and enjoyed by many. 

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens 

No comments:

Post a Comment