The Flamboyant Royal Poinciana
Royal poincianas put on a magnificent display of color and grandeur this time of year, and 2015 has been a banner year for this and other flowering trees. Poinciana trees make a huge impact on the Miami landscape, and there is even a yearly Royal Poinciana Fiesta festival sponsored by the Tropical Flowering Tree Society to celebrate the species.
The poinciana sets the standard for glorious color displays. Within the last 20 years, there have been even more distinct color variants, most notably several shades of yellow, orange and amber. The red-orange version that dominates the Miami landscape has variations as well, including some rare forms that sport ruby-red flowers. There are other species in the genus Delonix, although none have the magnificence of the royal poinciana, which the French so aptly name le flamboyant.
This species should be planted with respect for its vigorous root system, away from pools, paved areas and home foundations. It is a tree best appreciated with space around it to show off its spacious canopy and its brilliant mantle of multicolored blooms. If you choose to plant a poinciana, select a tree with as straight a trunk as possible. Prune it early in life to foster an upward growth habit and to ensure it grows with enough ground clearance to allow passage underneath. It will still have its trademark spreading canopy later in life. Enjoy this tree properly from a distance, including those that others planted decades ago.
Craig Morell is the head horticulturist for Pinecrest Gardens. You can follow his blog “Ask the Plant Guy”