Flamboyant Tree

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Flamboyant (Swahili : Mjohoro)

***** Location: Mombasa and other parts of Kenya
***** Season: Short rains
***** Category: Plant


Latin : Delonix regia

The Flamboyant is the most spectacular among Kenya’s host of spectacular flowering trees. This umbrella-shaped tree produces huge clusters of brilliant red flowers could easily win the beauty stakes against the gorgeous jacaranda and tipu trees, which also flower during the short rains season.

In Nairobi, there is only one flamboyant I know (and I pay it a visit every day). It never flowered in past years, the climate being too cold in the Highlands -- but more recently, it has spoilt the neighbourhood with its blossom during the short rains, and its huge seed pods during the rest of the year.

In warmer places, it thrives, and it is the main blossoming tree of Mombasa at the Indian Ocean coast, and Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria. In Namanga at the Tanzanian border, I was so spell-bound while photographing a group of them, that I left my lense cap there and departed without it...

The only compensation for global warming that I have so far seen, is that flamboyants will become more numerous in Nairobi -- and that they will flower every year.

Text and photos : © Isabelle Prondzynski


Flamboyant (Delonix regia)
Family : Caesalpinaceae

The original home of this magnificently spectacular tree is Madagascar, where it was first discovered in 1824. It has since been cultivated all over the tropical areas of the world including Kenya.

With its umbrella-shaped span of almost 30 ft (10 m), a height of between 30-50 ft (10-15m), and its canopy of scarlet flowers before the leaves develop, the Flamboyant is truly well-named. In Kenya it thrives best at an altitude below 4,500 ft (1,370 m), especially where it is warm and dry. Mombasa has a number of these trees planted in the town and they are a striking sight in the right season.

Being deciduous, the tree sheds its leaves during the dry season, when its long brown pods, almost 20 in (50 cm) in length, become markedly conspicuous.

John Karmali, The Beautiful Trees of Kenya, Nairobi 1988


Flamboyant with green pods
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski


Delonix regia / poinciana regia

A spreading deciduous tree, in flower one of the world’s most strikingly beautiful trees, growing to 10 m but under ideal conditions to 15 m, with a flat or umbrella-shaped crown. Common at the coast, but at Nairobi’s altitude flowering only erratically; now almost extinct in its native Madagascar.

Bark : Grey and smooth
Leaves : Light green and feathery, up to 60 cm in length, twice-compound with up to 40 side ribs; leaflets small and oval-shaped, mostly less than 1 cm long, folding with the dusk and falling in the dry season.

Flowers : Brilliant scarlet-red clusters, often appearing before the leaves, each flower up to 10 cm across with 5 wavy petals, of which the uppermost is creamy white and splashed with scarlet.
Fruit : Heavy flat brown pods up to 75 cm in length, honeycombed into horizontal seed chambers and remaining on the tree for many months. The tree is fast-growing from seed.

Tim Noad and Ann Birnie, Trees of Kenya, Nairobi 1989.


Flamboyant with brown pods
Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski

Click HERE to see more photos of this spectacular tree !

Worldwide use


Flame of the forest Photos

Tulip Tree, African Tulip Tree, Flame of the Forest Spathodea campanulata
FAMILY: BIGNONIACEAE (Trumpet-creeper Family)

It may not be from Australia, but the African tulip tree Spathodea campanulata across from the San Diego Zoo's koala exhibit and in the Zoo's Gorilla Tropics area has such stunning orange-scarlet flowers that nobody cares. Also known as the flame of the forest, the trees can grow as high as 70 feet (21 meters) in their native tropical habitat.
© 2007 Zoological Society of San Diego

ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo

Flamboyant or Poinciana regia is usually known in India as Gulmohur in Hindi belt, in Bengali we call it Krishnachura, it has many varieties, Mother of Pondicherry gave its spiritual name: Realization.
It's plentiful flowers in spring dazzle the road sides and gardens.

Aju Mukhopadhyay, India, January 2007


a gulmohur

by Vidur Jyoti. India

Vidur Jyoti, India, May 2008

. Flame of the Forest Tree .
Gulmohar, Krishnachuda



In Tanzania, Kenya's neighbour, this tree is known as the Christmas tree. It flowers during the lead-up to Christmas, which is the Tanzanian spring. Its bright red-hot blooms dazzle Arusha town. A walk along the Moshi-Arusha Road in November will show off this tree at its best, together with other blooming trees along this road.

Christmas tree--
red blooms sprinkled
in the trench

"Christmas tree" flowers in a ditch

Text, photo and haiku : Patrick Wafula


Trinidad and Tobago

We have both the Yellow and the Red Flamboyant flowering trees. They flower around June and may go until about September in bloom.

we celebrate
in T&T
flamboyant in blossom

celebrating as the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago edged out Sweden to go the World Cup Finals 2006

© gillena cox, http://myblog-lunchbreak.blogspot.com/
archived at Thursday June 15th 2006


Ivans's aftermath- -
a flame tree's red blossoms
in St Georges

* Ivan - - Hurricane Ivan September 2004
** St Georges- - the Capital of Grenada

© gillena cox, http://myblog-lunchbreak.blogspot.com/
archived at Thursday June 15th 2006

Things found on the way


late shopping trip --
the flamboyant and its guard
at nightfall

Haiku and photo : Isabelle Prondzynski

Related words

***** Nandi flame tree
Spathodea campanulata, African tulip tree
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

***** Tipu tree (Tipuana tipu) Kenya

***** Jacaranda (tropical tree) Kenya

***** Short Rains, a Haiku Season in Kenya


1 comment:

cmk said...


I found one of the Flamboyant Tree seed pods in Jamaica years ago.

My five year-old son wanted to take it to pre-school for 'Show & Share'. Unfortunately, I could not remember the name of the pod or any of the information.

Thanks for the info and pics. We enjoyed learning something new and being able to share it with the other students at school.

Take care,

Cindy & Alex Kramer
Hartland, Wisconsin USA