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Products > Spathodea campanulata 'Lutea'
 
Spathodea campanulata 'Lutea' - Yellow African Tulip Tree
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Bignoniaceae (Bignonias)
Origin: Africa, Central (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Fall
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 15-20 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Spathodea campanulata 'Lutea' (Yellow African Tuliptree) - This is the yellow form of the typically orange-red flowering evergreen tropical tree that reaches 50 to 80 feet in its native lands in Central Africa, but is more typically seen in California much smaller at around 25 to 35 feet tall by 15 to 25 feet wide. It is fast growing in youth, developing an upright rounded canopy and a thick trunk with rough gray bark and soft brittle branches and rusty brown stems holding attractive 18 inch long pinnately compound leaves with 4 to 6 inch long leathery leaflets that first emerge a bronze color and age to dark green. The large clusters of brilliant golden-yellow tulip-shaped flowers appear at branch tips in coastal California in late summer and fall starting off as a baseball size cluster of brown velvety claw shaped buds that split open lengthwise to reveal the 3 inch wide by 5 inch deep tulip-like trumpet shaped golden yellow flowers with ruffled edges that last several days. These open flowers are cup-shaped and hold rain and dew, making them attractive to many species of birds. Plant in full sun in a warm location (south-facing slopes or sides of a building are best in our cool coastal climate) in well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally. It is an evergreen tree in the tropics that can go drought deciduous and in our mild climate area will stop flowering and often go deciduous in late fall or at first frost, but in warm winters can flower through the winter, however it can freeze to hard wood when temperatures go much below freezing (28-30 F depending on duration). There are reports that roots might possibly surviving to even lower temperatures, but it is best planted in USDA zones 10 - 11. It can also be grown close to the ocean with some protection from sea breezes (Zone 2) but seems to like the warmer temperatures afforded to it a bit further back from the beach. Spathodea campanulata comes from dry humid forests and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa from Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia but it is now planted worldwide. Spathodea campanulata is monotypic (the only species in its genus) and first observed in 1787 along the Gold Coast in now what is Ghana by the French naturalist Ambrose Maria Francis Joseph Palisot de Beauvois, who later described it in his Flora D'Oware et de Benin in 1805. The name comes from the Ancient Greek words 'spathe' meaning "spathe" or "boat shaped" and 'odes' meaning "like" or "of the nature of" in reference to the large boat shaped calyx. The specific epithet is also a reference to the campanulate or "bell shaped" flowers. Besides African Tuliptree other common names include Fountain Tree, Pickari, Nandi flame and Squirt tree (because the nectar in the selling flower buds can be squirted out). Though noted as one of the world's most beautiful trees, Spathodea campanulata is also listed as one of the worst of weeds. Though not so in California, it is considered invasive in Hawaii, Queensland (Australia), Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka. We also grow the more common red flowering form which we list as Spathodea campanulata that is grown from seed but the yellow form of this tree was once considered incredibly rare but is now becoming more common in cultivation and is vegetatively propagated or grafted. There are nice plantings of this Yellow African Tuliptree as street trees in Santa Barbara on the west side of Los Olivos Street near State Street. The largest known trees in California are in San Diego County with one particularly large one noted in Balboa Park.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Spathodea campanulata 'Lutea'.
 
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