The African Tuliptree (Spathodea campanulata) is native to tropical forests in a broad area of sub-Saharan Africa. However, it is now grown far more widely than this throughout the world's tropics and has been reported to be an invasive colonizer in the South Pacific (e.g., Tahiti and Rarotonga, Meyer 2004), Puerto Rico, and Brazil. (Bittencourt et al. 2003 and references therein). In Tahiti, for example, S. campanulata often dominates lowland mesic forests as well as native upland wet forests up to 1,200 m in elevation (Meyer 2004). It was first reported from the Pacific Islands (Hawaii) prior to the 20th century (Whistler 1995). These trees grow very rapidly (measured trees in Puerto Rico increased their trunk diameter by as much as 2 inches per year), but require nearly full sun (Little and Wadsworth 1964). Under good conditions, they may begin flowering as young as 3 or 4 years of age, with trees grown in the open flowering when they are about 5 m tall (Orwa et al. 2009).
Spathodea campanulata has large bright red flowers with the edges of the corolla lobes colored yellow ("corolla" is a collective term for all the petals in a flower). The flowering heads appear in circular masses with packed buds. The buds on the outer portion of the head open together, surrounding the inner buds. (Ayensu 1974)
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