Spathodea is a monotypic genus in the flowering plant family Bignoniaceae. The single species it contains, Spathodea campanulata, is commonly known as the fountain tree, African tulip tree, pichkari or Nandi flame. The tree grows between 7–25 m (23–82 ft) tall and is native to tropical dry forests of Africa. It has been nominated as among 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders.
This tree is planted extensively as an ornamental tree throughout the tropics and is much appreciated for its very showy reddish-orange or crimson (rarely yellow), campanulate flowers. The generic name comes from the Ancient Greek words σπαθη (spathe) and οιδα (oida), referring to the spathe-like calyx. It was discovered in 1787 on the Gold Coast of Africa.
The flower bud is ampule-shaped and contains water. These buds are often used by children who play with its ability to squirt the water. The sap sometimes stains yellow on fingers and clothes. The open flowers are cup-shaped and hold rain and dew, making them attractive to many species of birds.
In Neotropical gardens and parks, their nectar is popular with many hummingbirds, such as the black-throated mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis), the black jacobin (Florisuga fusca), or the gilded hummingbird (Hylocharis chrysura). The wood of the tree is soft and is used for nesting by many hole-building birds such as barbets.
- Native to: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
- Exotic in: Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, India, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar, Hawaii
S. campanulata is a declared class 3 pest species in Queensland, Australia, under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002.
- As food: The seeds are edible and used in many parts of Africa.
- As timber: In its original habitat, the soft, light brownish-white wood is used for carving and making drums.
- As poison: The hard central portion of the fruit is used to kill animals.
- As medicine: The bark has laxative and antiseptic properties, and the seeds, flowers and roots are used as medicine. The bark is chewed and sprayed over swollen cheeks. The bark may also be boiled in water used for bathing newly born babies to heal body rashes.
Pests and diseases
In Uganda, two lepidopteran species, two termite species, and one bark beetle attack S. campanulata. In Puerto Rico nine insect species in the orders Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, and Thysanoptera have been reported as feeding on various parts of S. campanulata. The species is quite susceptible to butt and heart rot; wood of the tree rots quickly when in contact with the ground.
- Afrikaans: fakkelboom, Afrika-vlamboom
- Kannada: Neerukayi mara
- English: African tulip tree, flame of the forest, fountain tree, Nandi flame, Nile flame, squirt tree, tulip tree, Uganda flame
- French: immortel étranger
- Hindi: rugtoora
- Luganda: kifabakazi
- Luhya: muzurio
- Malay: panchut-panchut
- Sinhala: kudaella gaha, kudulu
- Spanish: amapola, espatodea, mampolo, tulipán africano, in Puerto Rico meaito.
- Swahili: kibobakasi, kifabakazi
- Tamil: patadi
- Trade name: flame of the forest, Nandi flame
- Gledhill, D. (2008). The Names of Plants (4 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3.
- Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 4 R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2526. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3.
- African Tulip Tropical Tree
- Baza Mendonça & dos Anjos (2005)
- Invasive Species Compendium and Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009,p. 70–71.
- Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route) Regulation 2003 (Qld) - Schedule 2
- Baza Mendonça, Luciana & dos Anjos, Luiz (2005): Beija-flores (Aves, Trochilidae) e seus recursos florais em uma área urbana do Sul do Brasil [Hummingbirds (Aves, Trochilidae) and their flowers in an urban area of southern Brazil]. [Portuguese with English abstract] Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 22(1): 51–59. doi:10.1590/S0101-81752005000100007 PDF fulltext