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African Tulip Tree Information: How To Grow African Tulip Trees
By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What is an African tulip tree? This big, impressive shade tree grows only in non-freezing climates. Want to know more about this exotic tree? Interested in knowing how to grow African tulips trees? Click this article to find out more.
The tulip tree is a deciduous tree with a moderate to rapid growth rate. It has a tendency to produce a strong central leader that forms a tall, straight trunk. The tulip tree grows 60 to over 100 feet tall with a spread of about 40 feet. In fall, the leaves of this tree turn a brilliant yellow before dropping. The tulip tree may not produce flowers until it is 15 years old. During periods of establishment and extended drought, the tulip tree requires supplemental irrigation or it will suffer leaf yellowing and premature drop, beginning with foliage on the interior of the canopy.
African Tulip Tree
One of the most sought after tree to beautify city lanes, Aftrican Tulip trees are a sight to behold when these trees are covered with the orange blooms. The floor under the trees is colored orange with the flower fall.
The Tulip tree, which is a native of tropical Africa belongs to the monotypic genus Spathodea belonging to the family Bignoniaceae* (trumpet creeper family). The botanical name is Spathodea Campanulata and the common names are Fountatin Tree, Fire ball tree, Flame of the forest, Nandi Flame, Patadi in Tamil and Rudrapalash in Bengali.
Picture above – The forests near Abbey Falls in Madikeri/Coorg
The tree can reach heights of 20 to 80 feet. The trunk is light gray and lightly buttressed. The wood is soft and brittle and it is not surprising to find hole-nests built by Barbets and wood peckers.
The compound leaves of the trees are bronze when young and they turn dark green and glossy later. The oval leaves are 1-2 ft long placed opposite to one another. When you look at the closed olive colored buds at the tip of the branches, you cannot imagine that they hold an impressive cup shaped bright orange flowers with a yellow outline. A very rare yellow variety also exist known as Lutea. The flowers holds the rain water and dew and this seems to be an inviting drink for many birds like Myna, Humming bird, Sun Birds etc.
The 8” pods are boat shaped that holds as many as 500 small thin seeds. The trees prefer direct sunlight and can be grown in all types of soil.
The bark of African Tulip tree is used to heal burn wounds as they have antibacterial properties. The bark and the leaves also have anti-malarial properties.
In Ghana, the bark and leaves of this tree are used in traditional medicine.
*Bignoniaceae, or Trumpet Creeper Family, is a family of flowering plants comprising of about 650-750 species in 116-120 genera.
Magnolia Pests and Problems
Magnolias are largely pest free, with the exception of scale, which can attack twigs and leaves. Remove scale with regular applications of horticultural oil. Diseases include black mildew, scab and canker, although generally diseases are not serious enough to warrant control. Take care when mowing near the tree, as the soft, thin bark of the tree is easy to damage and slow to recover.
When's the best time to trim a magnolia tree? Prune after flowering finishes for the season, to avoid possibly cutting down flower buds. Avoid major pruning once the tree has matured, however.