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Flame Tree

Delonix regia is a species of flowering plant in the bean family Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. It is noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of orange-red flowers over summer. In many tropical parts of the world it is grown as an ornamental tree and in English it is given the name royal poinciana, flamboyant, phoenix flower,flame of the forest, or flame tree. This species was previously placed in the genus Poinciana, named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, the 17th-century governor of Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts). It is a non-nodulating legume. The plant is native to northern and western Madagascar and Zambia. It is exotic in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda, United States of America, Egypt, Eritrea, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania. It is extensively planted as ornamental trees in tropical areas, such as Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the central region of South America.

Flame tree (Fire Tree) is a conspicuous, spreading, medium sized, fast growing, deciduous, broad-crowned, evergreen, ornamental legume tree. It has a large, buttressed trunk that angled towards the base, grey and smooth bark, sometimes slightly cracked, with lenticels and root-like buttresses. The twigs are stout, greenish, and finely hairy when young becoming brown. Younger branches are usually hairless, greenish in color, and covered with numerous pale brown raised spots. When the leaves are young, a pair of small once-compound leaf-like structures (i.e. pinnate stipules) is present where the leaf stalk joins to the stem. The large and showy flowers are borne in clusters near the tips of the branches on stalks. They have five large petals, that are predominantly bright red in color, and five smaller sepals, that are green on the outside and red on the inside. The petals have narrow bases and broad almost rounded tips with wavy or crinkled margins. Fruits turn from pale green to reddish-brown and eventually dark brown or black as it matures. These pods split open when fully mature to release their numerous (20-40) seeds. The seeds are hard, smooth and are yellow, grey or brown in color and oblong or narrowly-oval in outline.

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30 - 50 feet

Width-Circumference (Avg)

40 - 70 feet

Approximate pH

4.9 - 10.6

Growing Flame Tree

Growing From Seeds

The seeds can be germinated and seedlings planted at any time but the seeds will need to be scarificed first to break open the seed coat and allow water to germinate the seed (see techniques below). If you already have a flame tree, harvest the long, strappy dark brown seed pods when they fall to the ground in the spring.

  1. Remove the seeds from the pod.

  2. Soften the coating of the seeds by soaking them in warm water for a day or two before planting in potting mix.

  3. Scarify the softened seeds by gently nicking or scratching each one with a knife; this process allows water in and speeds up the germination process. Some gardeners suggest rubbing the seed with sandpaper for a few seconds to generate peeling.

  4. Add well-draining potting mix to a 3- to 6-inch deep seed tray. Place each seed 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart. Pat the soil firm around each seed.

  5. Put the tray in a warm, partially shaded outdoor area. Keep the soil moist but not overwatered. Seeds begin to germinate in four to six days.

  6. Transplant 8-inch high seedlings to a 1-gallon container. Continue transplanting your seedlings as they grow until you are ready to select a site in your landscape to root the tree.

Growing in Pots

The flame tree is too big to be grown in containers but it can be grown and trained as a bonsai. As such, it will require potting every two years.

How to Get Flame Tree to Bloom

If your flame tree isn't blooming, it might not be mature enough. It can take six to ten years for the tree to bloom for the first time. Another reason for its failure to bloom can be insufficient sun; the tree needs full sun to bloom.

Flame Tree Care

Plant a flame tree in a location where it has enough space to grow. Not only can this variety of tree reach up to 40 feet, but it can also spread between 40 and 70 feet wide. It can be damaging if not planted in the proper area. Keep the plant away from walls, pavement, or anything else it might overtake.

After planting, cover the soil around the tree—leaving some space near the trunk—with a 2-inch layer of mulch.


These trees do best in full sunlight, so choose an area that gets at least six full hours a day. Without adequate light, you might not see the showy red-orange flowers for which the flame tree is known.


A flame tree will grow in a variety of soil conditions as long as there is good drainage. The tree will tolerate clay, loamy, sandy, or gravelly soils in a wide pH range between 4.9 and 10.6.


After planting, water the tree regularly during the spring, summer, and early fall. Keep the soil moist, but never soggy until the roots become established. Make sure that the soil dries out between waterings.

During the late fall months, gradually cut down on the water supply before stopping extra watering during the winter months when the tree goes dormant.

Temperature and Humidity

The flame tree is native to tropical forests, so it does well in warm, humid environments. It cannot tolerate temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It's easily grown outdoors in parts of Florida, Texas, and Hawaii. It is only suitable for reliably warm climates.


Give the tree a balanced liquid fertilizer for four to six weeks after planting and then two to three times per year for the first three years. Give an additional application in early spring and fall. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions. Water the tree thoroughly after the soil has been fertilized.

Pruning and Propagating Flame Trees


It's important to prune flame trees to create a strong tree structure, as the limbs are susceptible to breakage in high winds. Around late March or early April, or right before spring growth starts in your area, prune any major branches that are half the diameter of the trunk or below 8 to 12 feet from the ground.

Propagating Flame Trees

Seed germination and cuttings are used to propagate this tree. To propagate the tree from cuttings:

  1. Using a sharp knife, take a cutting about one foot long. Remove any leaves from the lower third.

  2. Dip the stem in rooting hormone. Plant the cutting in a 1-gallon container filled with damp potting mix.

  3. Place in a warm outdoor location but away from direct sunlight. Keep the soil evenly moist until you see new growth, which can take several months. Once it starts growing, you can move it to a sunny location but let it grow into a strong sapling before planting it in the landscape.


The flame tree can't tolerate frost as it will rot the roots. If there is ever the danger of frost in the typically no-frost, cover smaller trees with burlap or a tarp overnight.

Pests and Plant Diseases

Although flame trees don't have a lot of pests, some species of caterpillars may chew away on the leaves. However, it should not defoliate the entire tree. Additionally, spider mites can be an issue, particularly if the tree isn't in a humid environment. If you spot spider mites, increase the humidity or set the plant outdoors. Scale insects can also be an issue. They'll appear under the leaves, but can be removed with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol.

Phellinus noxious is a fungus that may cause the roots to rot. Choosing a spot with soil that drains well can help lessen the possibility that this fungus will invade.

Common Problems

Litter will happen if the branches (which are brittle) break or when the seed pods fall to the ground. You can help reduce the chances of the branches breaking if you can provide a spot with protection from winds and prune to form a strong branching structure.

The tree has a shallow root system, which not only competes with neighboring plants for space, but also makes the tree prone to being uprooted in strong winds.

Benefits of Flame tree

Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of using Flame tree (Fire Tree) in our daily routine

1. Cures cramps in periods

Women’s severe abdominal pain and cramps during periods every month can also be reduced with the use of Flame tree. You will not find any other way to solve this problem. Pain can be relieved by the use of flowers of Flame tree. For this you have to grind its dried flowers and make powder. Then take about 2-4 grams of powder and mix honey in it. It will surely work wonders in curing menstrual cramps.

2. Heals mouth ulcers

Mouth ulcers can be extremely painful for everyone, so they need to be treated as soon as possible. In such a situation, if you are not in the habit of eating medicine, then you can use home remedies. You can use Flame tree for quick healing of ulcers. Take a little powder of its bark and mix it with honey. Consuming this mixture gives you immediate relief.

3. Cures arthritis pain

People believe that in rheumatism, grinding the leaves of the yellow colored Flame tree and making a decoction of it gives instant relief from the pain of arthritis. Grinding the leaves of yellow-flowered Flame tree and applying it provides relief in arthritis pain. You can try it and you will not have any side effects from it.

4. Cures scorpion venom

Scorpion venom can be highly toxic to the human body and can have many harmful effects on your health. It can even cause death, so you need to treat it immediately. Whenever you do not understand anything, to cure it, grind yellow colored Flame tree and apply powder. Applying it on the affected area will reduce the venom of the scorpion.

5. Cures baldness and hair fall

If you’re going through the issue of hair fall, then the marvelous strategy to deal with it is the Flame tree. Make a powder by grinding the leaves of Flame tree. Then, simply combine it with heat water and apply it in your scalp. When you apply on the pinnacle each week or twice per week, then you’ll begin seeing ends in just a few days.


Culinary Uses

  • The seeds are eaten raw as a snack in Madagascar.

  • In Thailand, the inner flesh of beans can be eaten raw after removal of the outer testa.

  • Young pods are edible and have good potential as a dietary protein source for humans.

  • Gum obtained from the tree is used in the food industry.

Other Facts

  • Flame tree make excellent avenue/roadside trees.

  • It is often planted as shade trees in dairy farms, tea plantations and compounds, and as live fence posts.

  • The tree can be planted as live fence posts.

  • It is grown on eroded sites for erosion control, and for soil rehabilitation and improvement through atmospheric nitrogen fixation.

  • Dark, hard heart wood is used in Sumatra for posts and supports for floorings and bridges; it is durable and resistant to insects although very susceptible to attack by dry-wood termites.

  • Seed pods are used as a percussion instrument, shak-shak or maraca in the Caribbean.

  • The wood and large woody old pods can be used as firewood.

  • The seeds contain gum that may find use in textile and food industries.

  • The hard, elongated seeds are occasionally used as beads.

  • The leaves provide nutritious fodder and browse for livestock.

  • Flowers are supposed to be good bee forage and also provide a dye.

  • It is supposed that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed over the flowers of the tree and this is how the flowers of Flame tree got a sharp red color.

  • Its blossom is the national flower of St. Kitts and Nevis, and in May 2018 the royal poinciana was adopted by the city of Key West as its official tree.

  • The song Poinciana was inspired by the presence of this tree in Cuba.

  • The flowers are a good and profuse source of feed for bees.

  • The timber can be used for light construction, fence posts or pirogues.

  • The wood ash could significantly reduce several fungi and insects.

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