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What is a Royal Poinciana?

Alex Tree
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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Royal poinciana, scientifically known as Delonix regia, is a species of tropical plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. It is also commonly known as the flame tree or flamboyant tree because of its flamboyant display of flowers with exceptionally vivid colors resembling flames. The plant is also referred to as gulmohar in Pakistan and India. This perennial plant is widely grown in Hong Kong, the Canary Islands and the Caribbean. The royal poinciana is a native to Madagascar, though it is widely cultivated in other tropical countries.

This tree thrives in well-drained, acidic and moist soil under full sun. Royal poinciana can grow to a height of 40 feet (about 12 m) and the crown can spread to around 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 m) in width. It needs protection from strong winds because its shallow roots may become uprooted and cause the tree to collapse.

Aside from its ornamental value, this garden tree is also used for its dense foliage and modest height that can provide ample shade. The leaves of the royal poinciana are pinnate, meaning they are divided like a feather, and measure about 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 m) in length. Each leaf is composed of 20 to 40 pairs of primary leaflets that are further divided into 10 to 20 pairs of secondary leaflets. These compound leaves are bright green and very lightweight.

The flowers of the royal poinciana are large and normally a shade of yellow, orange, or bright red. Each flower has four spreading petals that measure up to 3 inches (about 8 cm) in length and a fifth petal called the standard that is upright and a little bigger than the other petals. The standard is distinctive because of its white and yellow spots. Another common name of the royal poinciana is peacock flower because the physical appearance of the flowers is similar to that of a peacock with its feathers up.

Propagation of the royal poinciana can be achieved by sowing its seeds.The dark brown seed pods of this plant measure up to 2 inches (about 5 cm) wide and roughly 2 feet (0.6 m) long; they also are sometimes used as a percussion instrument called a maraca. Individual seeds are small with an average weight of 0.01 ounces (about 0.4 g). Though they are considered legumes, the seeds are not edible and usually only are used for propagation purposes. This ornamental tree is sometimes used to improve soil properties due to its nitrogen fixation abilities.

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Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.

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Discussion Comments
By anon931227 — On Feb 07, 2014

These are also widely grown in Australia.

By anon341184 — On Jul 09, 2013

I noted your comments regarding growing conditions. In Bermuda, poincianas flourish in dry, alkaline soil.

By anon193763 — On Jul 06, 2011

I'm a Ph.D. scholar. I'm doing my study on plants having a mucilaginous character and are edible in nature. Those mucilage plants should also have a buccal adhesion character. If you know about any of them, please kindly let me know them. I would like to know whether the leaves of Delonix regia are edible or not.

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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