Royal Poinciana (Flamboyant Tree): Flowers, Leaves (Pictures) – Identification

In late spring and early summer, the royal poinciana, a stunning blooming evergreen tree, produces masses of bright red-orange blossoms. The royal poinciana is distinguished for its fern-like leaves, spreading umbrella-like canopy, and lovely mahogany seed pods. It is also known as the flame of the forest, flamboyant tree, or flame tree.

In Florida, southern Texas, Central America, and the humid parts of Mexico, royal poinciana trees may be seen all around. The ornamental flowering tree thrives in tropical conditions and can tolerate dry situations in coastal regions. In more temperate climates, you may also grow royal poinciana in pots to enhance the beauty and majesty of your patio.

The magnificent royal poinciana tree is covered in this article. The exotic tropical tree can be identified by descriptions and photographs of its colorful flowers, bi-pinnate leaves, bark, and seeds. You’ll also learn strategies for maintaining a flame tree in your outdoor landscaping.

Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia) Facts

The flamboyant tree, often known as the flame tree, is also called royal poinciana (Delonix regia) in the pea family Fabaceae. The flame tree grows to be 30 to 40 feet (9 to 12 meters) tall and 40 to 70 feet (12 to 21 meters) broad. Royal poinciana blooms in late spring with a burst of vivid red and orange colors, making it one of the most gorgeous tropical trees.

In USDA zones 10 through 12, royal poinciana trees thrive. This flamboyant specimen, on the other hand, thrives in full sun and relatively dry circumstances as a heat-loving and sunlight-loving tropical tree. The flame tree is a suitable blooming shade tree for hot, humid places because of its huge range. The tree’s canopy is roughly twice as broad as it is tall, and it spreads out from the trunk. Moreover, the tree’s delicate fern-like foliage provides dappled shade all year long.

The poinciana tree, which grows to be around 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall each year, has a rapid growth rate. The evergreen flamboyant tree may survive for up to 50 years. The tree’s growth rate will be slower in partial shade, despite the fact that it can tolerate it.

It may take 5 to 12 years for a young royal poinciana tree to bloom after being planted. Royal poinciana has deciduous foliage in areas with a mildly cool winter or dry season, despite being classified as a tropical evergreen tree. The tree’s lacy, feathery, mimosa-like leaves are shed during these times. Delonix regia is also known as the peacock flower tree, red tree, flame of the forest, and royal poinciana.

Delonix regia var. Golden royal poinciana / yellow poinciana Royal poinciana trees have yellow flowers, and they tend to be a little untidy. Late in the autumn, a profusion of seed pods can make cleaning up a chore. Moreover, when the little leaves fall during dry seasons, they may clog up pool filters and drains.

It’s also important to recognize that royal poinciana has invasive buttress roots. Moreover, the roots of the tree are typically shallow, and they may damage driveways, sidewalks, lawns, or buildings. Because of the shallow root system and wide crown, you should not plant royal poinciana too close to buildings.

Royal Poinciana Flowers

The orange-red or scarlet blossoms blooming on a royal poinciana tree are known as royal poinciana flowers. There is an additional fifth petal with streaks of white and yellow, which makes each bloom consist of four clawed petals with a spoon shape. The large blossoms, which range in size from 3″ to 4″ (7.5 to 10 cm), bloom in clusters of stunning color.

From late May to July, the royal poinciana blooms. At the ends of branches, clusters of reddish-orange orchid-like flowers bloom. At full bloom, the flame tree resembles a huge colorful umbrella. The showy flowers of the royal poinciana tree are referred to by its botanical name, Delonix regia. Delos means distinguishable or flashy, and onyx means claw in Greek.

Royal Poinciana Leaves

Green, bi-pinnate, feathery, fern-like leaves composed of main and secondary leaflets make up royal poinciana leaves. A stem has 50 to 70 tiny oval leaves and 20 to 40 main leaves. The broad leaves range in length from 8 inches to 20 inches (20 cm). In tropical areas, the semi-evergreen leaves stay green all year. Nevertheless, in colder regions and during particularly dry seasons, the leaves turn brown and drop. Leaves on royal poinciana trees look a lot like mimosa and jacaranda leaves in certain ways.

Royal Poinciana Bark

The bark on the royal poinciana tree is smooth and scaly, becoming somewhat rough as it ages. It is light brown to grayish-brown and varies in color with age. The twigs and thornless branches become a reddish-brown color, as new stem growth on the tree is green. Royal poinciana branches are very brittle and prone to breaking because of their quick development.

Royal Poinciana Seed Pods (Fruit)

Once the showy blooms fall away, royal poinciana seed pods sprout abundantly. The dark brown pod clusters measure between 12″ and 24″ (30 and 60 cm) long, with bean-like pods hanging in abundance. Throughout the winter, the pendulous pods hang from the tree before dropping in spring.

Between 20 and 40 seeds are released from royal poinciana seed pods when they reach maturity. Clearing up the pods after they fall is a challenge when growing a royal poinciana tree in your yard. Hundreds of long, brown seed pods may be strewn across the garden landscape.

Royal Poinciana Identification

The showy orange-red blooms, five spreading petals, broad feathery leaves, and a broad spreading canopy distinguish royal poinciana. The flamboyant flame tree is easily identified in warm, southern landscapes because of its rounded crown and relatively dense fern-like leaves and long slender woody seed pods.

Royal Poinciana in the Landscape

In landscapes, royal poinciana has a beautiful appearance. Royal poinciana is a popular tree in southern tropical gardens because to its showy appearance and tolerance to heat. It’s an excellent shade tree in the summer because of its large, spreading canopy. The tree is also a popular specimen tree because of its attractive form and stunning crimson-orange blooms.

Where to Plant Royal Poinciana

The royal poinciana tree thrives best in well-drained soil and bright sunlight. During late spring and early summer, getting at least six to eight hours of sunlight ensures abundant blooms. Planting on the south side of a structure is the finest choice in regions with mild winters.

Another factor to consider when deciding where to put a royal poinciana tree is spacing. The royal poinciana tree should ideally be at least 20 feet (6 meters) away from buildings and driveways. This avoids the roots from becoming shallow and causing damage. However, spacing the trees 12 to 15 feet (3.6 to 4.5 meters) apart will allow you to create an evergreen flowering privacy screen.

As long as the soil is well-drained, royal poinciana trees may be planted in a variety of soils. While the tree will flourish in clay soil, fast development is best in sandy, loamy soil. The flame tree, on the other hand, is adaptable to salty air and drought once it has grown up.

How to Plant Royal Poinciana

Dig a hole three to four times wide and as deep as the root ball to establish a royal poinciana tree from a pot. Placement of the tree and spreading of its roots is done. Next, press down on the planting hole to eliminate air pockets as you backfill it. Water the root region thoroughly to hydrate the roots and eliminate remaining air pockets after planting the flamboyant tree.

During the first season, water a newly planted royal poinciana tree deeply twice a week. Helping the roots establish themselves and develop drought tolerance is critical. You may need to water the tree more often in hot weather.

How to Grow Royal Poinciana From Seed

It isn’t difficult to grow royal poinciana trees from seed. The tree, on the other hand, might take up to four years to bloom, but it can take even longer. Collecting and growing the seeds, on the other hand, is very simple. First, ensure that the pods have opened naturally before collecting seeds from them. Next, put the royal poinciana seeds in a jar of warm water for 24 hours, and then plant them. Any that float should be discarded. To allow water in and speed up germination, nick or scratch each seed you plant after that.

It’s simple to grow royal poinciana seedlings. First, use a well-draining combination of moist peat moss and perlite to fill tiny seedling pots. Place one seed in each pot, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep. Lastly, place the pots in a warm and bright location that is shielded from direct sunlight.

Over the next few weeks, keep the soil moist but not soggy by maintaining a consistent moisture level. It takes five to six weeks for royal poinciana seeds to sprout. You can move the seedlings to a bigger pot to continue growing when they are approximately 8″ (20 cm) tall. Late March or April is a good time to transfer to the ground.

Growing Royal Poinciana in Container

In a big pot, a royal poinciana tree is simple to sustain. The potting soil should be a combination of peat moss, compost, and perlite to ensure it retains moisture without becoming excessively wet for optimum results. Only when the top 1″ (2.5 cm) of soil is dry should you water the potted flame tree. If you live in a temperate environment, growing royal poinciana in a pot is the best choice. During the winter, you can keep the huge potted tree in a conservatory or greenhouse.

Royal poinciana trees may reach a height of 12 feet (3.6 meters). The dwarf poinciana tree cultivar Caesalpinia pulcherrima, on the other hand, is best for creating a smaller tree. A type of shrub or multi-stemmed tree that grows to just 10 feet (3 meters) tall is dwarf poinciana (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).

Royal Poinciana Care Guide

After it grows up, a royal poinciana tree requires little attention. It thrives in sunlight and is drought tolerant. Regular pruning and clearing up fallen seed pods are the most important care concerns for a flame tree.

How to Water Royal Poinciana

During the spring and summer, water a royal poinciana twice weekly until the tree is established. Watering should be kept to a minimum during the fall and winter. A poinciana tree should never be watered excessively; doing so may cause root rot and sluggish development.

Watered less frequently than an established flamboyant tree. The royal poinciana performs better in drier conditions, and a healthy tree is drought tolerant. During dry, hot weather, however, it is critical to moisten the earth sufficiently. You can spread a 2″ to 3″ (5 – 7.5 cm) layer of mulch over the root area to keep the soil moist and reduce watering frequency. Just ensure that the tree’s trunk is surrounded by a 3″ (7.5 cm) clearance.

Royal Poinciana Fertilization

Fertilizing two to three times a year is required for newly planted royal poinciana trees under three years old. Use a 15-5-15 NPK balanced slow-release tree fertilizer. Reduce fertilizer application to twice a year, beginning in early spring and ending in the early summer.

An mature royal poinciana doesn’t need supplemental fertilizing after five years. Instead, in the spring, you may simply add some organic compost or rotting manure to boost the soil’s nutrient level.

How to Prune Royal Poinciana

To encourage a strong branching structure in a royal poinciana tree, regular pruning is required. Pruning a flamboyant tree also helps create a center leader and provides space for beneath the canopy, as well as reducing branches prone to breaking.

Annual trimming is also required to eliminate dead, sick, or rotting limbs. Early spring, just before regrowth begins, is the optimum season to prune a royal poinciana tree. Search for branches that are rubbing together or appear to be sick. Furthermore, to allow for an 8 to 12 ft. (2.4 to 3.6 m) gap under the tree’s canopy, it’s a good idea to remove lower limbs from the tree.

Royal Poinciana Propagation

Stem cuttings or seeds may be used to grow royal poinciana. While seed propagation is the most widely used method, stem propagation will result in a tree that blooms sooner. Remove a 12″ (30 cm) length of softwood with many nodes from a stem cutting to grow a royal poinciana tree. Next, save the remaining few leaves at the tip and remove all of the bark from the severed end.

Next, place the cutting roughly 3″ to 4″ deep in a pot filled with well-drained potting soil and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. For the cutting to take root, it should take a few weeks. Water the soil frequently to keep it moist, and keep the pot in a warm, bright location. In warm climates, you may bring the rooted poinciana tree to the ground in the autumn or early spring.

Pests Affecting Royal Poinciana Growth

The pests that most commonly affect the flamboyant tree are royal poinciana caterpillars (Melipotis acantoides). The slender, worm-like body of the striped black and brown caterpillar measures 1.6″ (40 mm) long. To get to the foliage, the destructive black bugs swarm on poinciana trees in huge numbers. The nighttime feeders royal poinciana caterpillars hide in the shade at midday. They emerge just before dusk to wreak havoc.


Since there are so many royal poinciana caterpillars, controlling them can be challenging. Therefore, placing burlap around the tree’s root might provide them a location to hide throughout the day since they descend from it after feeding. At this point, you may remove the cloth and toss it in a hot, soapy bath to kill off the black larvae throughout the day.

Diseases Affecting Royal Poinciana Growth

Common illnesses have very little impact on royal poinciana trees. The tree is seldom affected by cold or humidity since it grows in full sun and tropical conditions. It’s important, however, to keep in mind that frost may harm a royal poinciana tree for the rest of its life.

The most prevalent cause of a royal poinciana tree’s demise is underwatering. Fungal root infections like Phellinus noxius are common in soggy soil. Also, the tree roots are attacked by brown root rot, which cuts off nutrients and water to the tree. In mature royal poinciana trees, yellow leaves and reduced foliage are the first indications of root rot, which is caused by a lack of chlorophyll. Brown patches may also be seen at the base of the tree’s trunk.

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