Have you ever started a cozy fire with balled up newspaper? Ever sat and watched the edges of the paper glow brighter as it burned? If so, hypnotizing isn't it? Well nature has its own way of giving us that burning bright realness. Check out the blazing brilliance on the rims of Spathodea campanulata's bloom. The look is electrifying and I can't get enough of it!
Spathodea campanulata also referred to as the African Tulip-Tree comes to us all the way from tropical Africa. Now before we go further, note, this tree can become a biggin'. We're talking with the right conditions and left to its own devices you could have a 40-75 foot tree on your hands. But don't fret, Spathodea campanulata doesn't mind a good aesthetic pruning periodically to keep it much smaller and in check. Other crazy facts, its russet calyces, the casing around the flower petals, exude a thin nectar that birds and butterflies, who are into it, love to sample. The inflorescence (the complete flower head made up of individual flowers in this case) itself can be as wide as a dinner plate and each individual flower is about 4" wide. The grooved fire resistant tree bark has a garlicky aroma when rubbed. Its pinnate leaves are evergreen in warm climates, semi-evergreen in temperate situations, and it blooms primarily on higher lateral branches. This tree will die in areas that receive frost.
Spathodea campanulata is considered invasive in places like Florida and Hawaii where it can run a bit rampant. It does beautifully in Southern California. However, if you're up for the challenge of carefully monitoring the progress of this fast-growing tree and keep it in check, you will be in for a spectacular reward come bloom time. This tree likes full sun, moist but can tolerate dry conditions, and well-drained average to fertile soil. To see this tree blooming live and in concert is a spectacle to behold. It will set your soul on fire!