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Products > Markhamia lutea
Markhamia lutea - Nile Tulip Tree
Image of Markhamia lutea
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Bignoniaceae (Bignonias)
Origin: Africa, East (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Synonyms: [Markhamia hildebrandtii]
Height: 20-30 feet
Width: 10-20 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Markhamia lutea (Nile Tulip Tree) A small to medium sized upright evergreen tree to 30 feet by 10 to 20 feet wide with light gray bark that ages darker with fine fissures that flake off to reveal younger brown bark beneath. It has foot long pinnately compound leaves with shiny dark green 3 to 7 inch long by 1 1/2 to 3 inch wide oppositely arranged obovate leaflets and in mid to late summer (July to September) at branch tips appear the panicles of showy bright yellow inch flowers fussed at their base into a funnel shape that is topped by ruffled petals with maroon stripes going down the throat. After flowering appear the foot long flattened beanlike light brown fruits that open to release many papery membranous winged seeds with the decorative split open pods long remaining. Plant in full to part sun. It can be relatively fast growing if well irrigated but also tolerates drier conditions and then growing more slowly. Tolerates light to medium frost and is noted to survive temperatures down to 25 F without damage. It is noted as not predated upon by dear and tolerant of near seashore plantings. Seed grown plants flower when only 4 to 5 years old but its growth habit in youth can be somewhat irregular so begin pruning early for crown development. This is a attractive tree that is spectacular in flower. It attracts and is pollinated primarily by bees and butterflies also enjoy its nectar. This tree is native to equatorial east Africa where it is found growing in seasonally dry savannas and on dry rocky ridges and hillsides. The genus name honors Sir Clements Robert Markham (1830-1916), a British geographer, explorer, and secretary of the Royal Geographical Society. The specific epithet, lutea, comes from the Latin word, 'luteus', meaning "yellow" in reference to the bright yellow flowers. This tree has long been listed as Markhamia hildebrandtii and we first listed this plant under this name in our catalog in 1986. This name, published in 1905, was to honor the German explorer, collector, and scientist Johann Maria Hildebrandt who collected plants in East Africa but current treatment has made this name synonymous with Markhamia lutea as described ten years prior in 1895. Markhamia lutea was first planted in the late 1940s in Santa Barbara in test street plantings as noted in Maunsell Van Rensselaer's 1948 edition of Trees of Santa Barbara and there are a few nice specimens around Santa Barbara, including a large specimen in De La Guerra Square and another, where collect our seed in Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens. Arborist Dave Gress wrote about this in his September 2021 Tree of the Month article.  The information about Markhamia lutea displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.