Field Guide Friday – Golden and Yellow Poinciana

 Above and below image of the Golden Poinciana via B. Naqqi Manco
Many of us living in Turks and Caicos would recognize the Flamboyant or Royal Poinciana, Delonix Regia.  Locally known as the Flame Tree for good reason; with it’s fiery crimson colored masses of flowers in full bloom, this stop in your tracks striking tree is highly conspicuous.  But it’s yellow flowering sisters, the Golden Poinciana, Delonix Regia var. Golden, and Yellow Poinciana, Delonix Regia var. Flavida are far more rare.

Delonix Regia originated in Madagascar’s dry deciduous forests but it’s great beauty soon had it spreading to any tropical or subtropical region that could sustain it.  In the Caribbean one should begin to see blooms in May, lasting through to September.  The rest of the year the tree is a far cry from it’s former glory, looking rather gaunt but easily recognizable with it’s grey smooth branches forming a natural umbrella canopy, feathery fern or mimosa looking leaves, and relatively large, long dark seedpods.

I caught sight of a Yellow Poinciana while doing a site visit at a clients in 2010, the first and last I have ever seen locally.   Above you can see a comparison between the Royal on the right to the Yellow on the left.  Incredible how overpowering the blooms are on the Royal, and how sparse they are on the Yellow, despite the two trees being approximately the same height and likely planted at the same time and maintained in the same fashion.

So what’s your favorite?

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