Sunday, June 13, 2010
Royal Poinciana Blooms Amazing This Year
A special treat greets those visiting South Florida this time of year, the Royal Poinciana tree. Due to the coldest winter in years, scientists say that is the best bloom in decades. The brilliant red blooms of this tree are so spectacular, it’s also known in some Latin American countries as the Flamboyant tree.
Originally from Madagascar, how it got to south Florida remains a mystery. David Fairchild, the famous plant explorer who has a garden named after him in Miami planted one in 1917. Early settlers of the areas used to plant the trees to cool their homes in the summer months with their shade. Since they are deciduous, by winter time the tree canopy is bare, so the house gets warm from the sun. The trees look like they are straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. They have a large stout trunk and an enormous canopy that is often shaped like an umbrella. The leaves are fine and compound. The tree is in the Leguminosae family and has relatives such as the Tamarind and Mimosa trees. The seed pods are mature to a dark long 12-18 inches and when shaken sound like a maraca.
So important is the tree to Miami that in 1937 the mayor declared a special day to be Royal Poinciana Day. In 1938 they started a Fiesta and had concerts and our poet laureate of Florida Larimore Raider wrote a special poem dedicated to the tree called Peacock Proud. Every year a Royal Poinciana Queen is appointed. There are special events and tours of the most beautify trees.
The popularity of the Royal Poinciana is exemplified by the numerous local landmarks named after it, notably schools, streets, shopping centers and developments. On the FIGI Islands, the trees bloom in the winter. They call it their Christmas tree. It also grows in central and South American as well as Hawaii.
The trees need a lot of room to spread out so keep that in mind when planting. It is suggested to plant thirty feet away from the house. They can be seen along roadsides, in older neighborhoods as well as in parks, schoolyards and botanical gardens.