Flame of the Forest - Delonix Regia - the Gulmohar Tree
Flame Of The Forest - Gulmohar Tree
Flame of the forest - Butea monosperma (Read here)
- Butea monosperma, Flame Of the Forest Or Palash Tree - Some Uses And Health Benefits
Flame of the forest, Butea monosperma, Palash, Dhak, Bengal kino, Bino kino, Parrot tree ... One tree, various names, as varied as its health benefits. Read on for more on this amazing tree...
Flame Of The Forest
There are 3 trees that are called flame of the forest. They all belong to different genera
They are :
- Butea monosperma or Palash tree
- Delonix regia or Gulmohar tree
- Spathodea or African tulip tree
You can read about the first, Butea monosperma linked above right which will lead you to my article.
About Flame Of The Forest - The Gulmohar Tree
Latin Name : Delonix regia
It belongs to the family, Fabaceae.
In India, this tree is called Gulmohar or even by its common Englsh name, Flame of the forest.
Other common names by which this tree is known are; flame tree, flamboyant, gold mohar, royal poinciama etc.
I still remember these trees lining the road to my school, on either side and during summer they presented an awesome sight, a look as if the whole street was ablaze. Such is the beauty of this tree.
Different Colored Flowered Varieties Of Delonix regiaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Flame Of The Forest Tree
Gulmohar tree is regarded as one of the most beautiful tropical trees in the world. The tree grows to a height of about 20-25 feet usually but can and does many times reach a height of 50 feet.
The tree is an evergreen deciduous with the branches spreading wide and forming an umbrella like canopy. It remains green throughout the year wherever there is enough water. However, in areas in which it does not have access to water in the dry season or during times of drought it sheds its leaves.
The gulmohar grows well in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It prefers the sun and does not like shade and doesn't grow well in shaded areas. It is native to Madagascar but it under threat in the wild there because of habitat destruction.
It has become naturalized in Southern Florida in the U.S. It is invasive in parts of Australia competing with natural vegetation.
The tree commonly bears red, crimson, orange and to a lesser extent the rarer yellow colored flowers.
The Gulmohur tree competes with other nearby vegetation and therefore the ground under its canopy remains bare. The tree starts bearing flowers after 4 to 5 but there are instances of trees flowering after 12 years or more.
Delonix regia can tolerate salty conditions also and can be grown in coastal areas.
Flowering Gulmohar TreesClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Leaves And Branches
The leaves are large and doubly pinnate having 10-25 pairs of pinnae, each having 30-60 opposite leaflets.
The leaves have a feathery feel and are bright green in color.
The branches are brittle and break easily and may break without a warning especially when the wind is blowing.
The Pinnate Leaves
The flowers are the most striking part of this tree and it is flamboyant in the display of its flowers. They are about 10 cm in diameter and emit a characteristic scent. The stamens are dark red and the style is yellow.
Each flower is 5 petaled with one petal being different from the other four. Though all the petals are claw shaped, this petal stands out in striking contrast to the other four in that it has red flecks on a white to yellow blotch.
The flowers are bisexual and are thought to be pollinated by sunbirds.
Gulmohar Tree FlowersClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Mature Seed Pods
The Seed Pods And The Seeds
The seed pods are extremely long, flattened and strap shaped having up to 50 seeds in each one. They are turn deep brown when mature. The mature seeds are from dark brown to almost black color.
The Seed Pods And SeedsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Flowering Seasons In Different Countries
Southern Sudan - March ~ May India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - April ~ June South Florida - May ~ June Egypt - May ~ June Vietnam - May ~ July Caribbean - May ~ September Zimbabwe - October ~ December Brazil - November ~ February Australia - December ~ February
Cultivation Requirements & Precautions
- Grows in tropical to subtropical areas.
- Full sun, well drained soil.
- Though the roots grow superficially and do not go deep, they spread far and wide. They can damage, land drains, road pavings and foundations of nearby buildings.
- Choose the right site for planting away from landscape to avoid damage.
Uses Of The Gulmohar Tree
It is widely cultivated as an ornamental tree in parks and on the roadside. It provides valuable shade during the summer season.
The wood is durable and resistant to water and is used to make fence posts.
The seeds are used as beads to make necklaces, bracelets and other artificial jewellery.
The gum from the dried seeds is used as a binder in the manufacture of tablets like paracetamol etc.
The bark is believed to be antipyretic.
The inner portion of the seed is eaten in Thailand.
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Burkill, H.M. (1995). The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa: Vol 3 Families J – L: 100-101. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Du Puy, D.J., Labat, J-N., Rabevohitra, R., Villiers, J-F., Bosser, J. & Moat, J. (2002). The Leguminosae of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Du Puy, D.J., Phillipson, P., Rabevohitra, R. (1995). The genus Delonix (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae: Caesalpinieae) in Madagascar. Kew Bull. 50: 445-475.
Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1992). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. Vol. 2 (D to K): 25-26. Macmillan Press, London.
Sareen & Vasisht (1982). Breeding systems of Delonix regia. In: Improvement of Forest Biomass, ed. P. K. Khosla, pp. 33-40. Pragati press, New Delhi.
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Lady in Red: Gulmohar in Summer
Gulmohar Gar Tumhara Naam Hota (Watch this song having this tree as the theme, against the backdrop of the Gulmohar trees)
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly