Bangalore Environment Trust Newsletter, January 1999

Sat, 03/03/2007 - 09:56 admin


Trees of Bangalore - African Tulip Tree

Spathodea Campanulatal
Another striking flowering tree In Bangalore is the Scarlet - Bell tree, the Fountam. Squirt or Syringe Tree. All these different names are based on some striking character of the plant. Scarlet-Bell refers to its large. bell-shaped. bright scarlet coloured flowers Fountain, squirt or syrtnge signify the fact that water comes out like a squirt when the large green water-filled buds are squeezed. The name African Tulip Tree refers to the resemblance of its flower to that of Indian Tulip Tree (Thespesta Populnea): and 'African' refers to its Origin from Central Africa. It Is an exotic tree introduced into India from Angola in Africa via Ceylon in lhe later part of the 19th century. It belongs to the Btgnontaceae family thai is remarkable for including many of the showy flowered plants t.hat we come across in our parks.

In Greek 'spathe' means a ladle, in allusion to the spathe-like green calyx of the flower. In Latin campanulata means bell-shaped, which is an epithet for its bell-shaped Ilowers. It grows into a tall tree upto 20m height with a cover of flowers for several months. It is evergreen in wetter areas and becomes decidious for a short duration in drier areas. The tree looks extraordinarily handsome wnh the dark-green crown covered by large. bell-shaped. bright scarlet flowers,

It attains a good height in the environs of Bangalore. It has large sized compound leaves. Just after the rains In August. September flower buds covered over by thick leathery calyx appear in clusters at the ends of the branches. These contain watery fluid and are much sought after by children for playing as water-squirts. The large flowers are a rich store of nectar. so a variety of birds gather on these flowering trees to have a Sip of the delicious nectar. and in the process pollinate the flowers. It is strange that the tree does not flourish in Bombay and in many other cities in India. But in Bangalore large woody frutts are produced. which on ripening burst open to scatter thousands or papery-like winged seeds. which are carried away far off by wind. Bangalore has become a second home to thts species where its flowering. and fruiting and growth patterns resemble thc characters observed in its nalive home in Central Africa.

The African Tulip Tree is both a shade and ornamental tree and is well-suited for planting in parks and along roads ill cities. It grows fast and is one or the finest avenue trees.


B.G. Neginhal I.F.S. (Retd.)


Back to News letter