S.Q. Mehdi posted today's Botany Photos of the Day on the UBC Botanical Garden Flickr pool earlier this month, and Stephen Coughlin composed the write-up. Thank you to S.Q. for a fine set of images. (Original photos: Full Tree; Flower)
Delonex regia, commonly known as royal poinciana or flamboyant tree, is a fast-growing (up to 1.5 metres per year), threatened native of Madagascar. Its epithets suggest something of the plant's appeal to both the eye and the imagination. In early summer, the tree erupts into a spectacular conflagration of red, and a closer look reveals that each of the tightly clustered flowers has five gently crinkled petals, four of which are nearly uniform in shape, size and rich red hue, while the fifth (the 'standard'), spotted and orange-yellow, rises elegantly to a few centimeters above its peers. Feathery, compound bipinnate leaves underlie the inflorescence. The trunk, which can sometimes reach 50 metres in height, bears smooth, light-brown bark. Due to the strength and complexity of its surface root system, the species is commonly considered invasive, and due to its popularity and abundance in the Caribbean, the tree is often thought to be a native of the region.
Though vulnerable in the wild, flamboyant tree is today naturalized in many tropical areas. It is hardy in zones 9 through 11 and cultivated in several different types of soil. Delonex regia is generally grown as an ornamental, though its seeds are sometimes used practically in percussive instruments like the maraca.