"The Wise Gardener!"
The Sensual Pulse of the Tropics!
Growing The Flame Of The Forest Tree:
The Fabulous Royal Poinciana: Delonix regia!
By Paul, The Wise Gardener
• Botanical name: Delonix regia
• Pronunciation: dee-LOE-nicks REE-jee-uh
• Common name: Royal poinciana
• Family: Leguminosae
• USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 13B; it likes to be underwatered, and blooms more abundantly when it is on the dry side.
• Origin: Madagascar
• Height: 35 to 40 feet
• Spread: 40 to 60 feet
• Crown shape: spreading; vase shape with a beautifully buttressed trunk!
• Crown density: moderate; dappled shade
• Type: Semi-evergreen
Few trees are flashier than a royal poinciana when in bloom. They’re tall, matching or topping much of the tree cover at 40 feet here. They’re brilliant, with large, fiery coral blooms. They’re fat, spreading their flowering glory in a reach as wide as 60 feet. They obviously love life in Naples, although the east coast of Florida has claimed them first for celebration rites with the annual Royal Poinciana Festival each May.
That said, they’re also messy. They shed their flowers as limp little corpses around driveways and their seed pods as 18-inch-long litter. So they’re best for large yards, where mature trees won’t grow over driveways or roofs. The specimen shown here is in the Naples subdivision named for them, Poinciana Village, where most streets have at least one of the trees; the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens also has some showy royal poincianas that are blooming next to Goodlette-Frank Road.
For the more subtle taste there are yellow poincianas and dwarf poincianas, which share a visual profile but are different trees altogether. For those who want a tree that no one will miss, royal poinciana is the finest. I hate the yearly clean-up, but their floral display makes the Royal Poinciana, very well worth the effort involved in its maintenance! There IS NO SUBSTITUTE tree; it's as simple as that!
Much of the following information is from a comprehensive list of Florida tree information on a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Web site:
For an extensive site with more photos and information on history and care of the trees, see Lee County Horticulture Agent Stephen Brown’s online brochure:
You can also get information by calling the Collier County Extension Service Master Gardener Plant Clinic at 353-2872.
Paul, The Wise Gardener!