Spathodea is a monotypic genus in the flowering plant family Bignoniaceae. The single species it contains, Spathodea campanulata, is commonly known as the African tulip tree. 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 identified by Europeans 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.
The African tulip tree flower produces large flamboyant reddish-orange flowers that have approximately five petals and are 8-15 cm long. The flowers are bisexual and zygomorphic. These are displayed in a terminal corymb-like raceme inflorescence. Its pedicel is approximately 6 cm long. This flower also has a yellow margin and throat. The pistil can be found at center of four stamens that is inserted on the corolla tube. This flower has a slender ovary that is superior and is two celled. The seeds of this tree are flat, thin, and broadly winged.
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.  Unfortunately the flowers have a natural defence killing bees, and it is thought various other species who harvest its pollen.
- Native to: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
- Exotic in: Australia, Bangladesh, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Fiji, India, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar, Hawaii, Philippines
Spathodea campanulata is a declared class 3 pest species in Queensland, Australia, under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002. It is known to be toxic to Australian native stingless bees, such as Lipotriches (Austronomia) flavoviridis.
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.
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- Afrikaans: fakkelboom, Afrika-vlamboom
- Kannada: Neerukayi mara, Jeerkolavi mara (ನೀರುಕಾಯಿ ಮರ, ಜೀರ್ಕೊೞವಿ ಮರ, ಜೀರ್ಕೊಳವಿ ಮರ)
- English: African tulip tree, fountain tree, Nandi flame, Nile flame, squirt tree, tulip tree, Uganda flame, Flame Tree of Thika
- French: immortel étranger
- Bangla: rudrapalash (রুদ্রপলাশ)
- Hindi: rugtoora (रुग्तूरा)
- Malayalam: African Poomaram (ആഫ്രിക്കൻ പൂമരം)
- Luganda: kifabakazi
- Luhya: muzurio
- Malay: panchut-panchut
- Sinhala: kudaella gaha, kudulu
- Spanish: amapola, espatodea, mampolo, tulipán africano, in Puerto Rico meaíto.
- Telugu: Neeti Budda (నీటి బుడ్డ), Gonuganta (గోనుగంట)
- Swahili: kibobakasi, kifabakazi
- Tamil: patadi (பாசடி)*
- Trade name: Nandi flame
- "Spathodea campanulata". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 24 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- 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
- Hargreaves, Dorothy; Hargreaves, Bob (1964). Tropical Trees of Hawaii. Kailua, Hawaii: Hargreaves. p. 2.
- Baza Mendonça & dos Anjos (2005)
- de QUEIROZ, A. C. M., VENTURIERI, G., VENTURIERI, G., & de OLIVEIRA JUNIOR, M. C. M. (2012). Effect of toxicity of nectar and pollen of african tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) on Melipona fasciculata and M. seminigra (Apidae, Meliponini). In Embrapa Amazônia Oriental-Resumo em anais de congresso (ALICE). In: ENCONTRO SOBRE ABELHAS, 10., 2012, Ribeirão Preto. Anais... Ribeirão Preto: FUNPEC, 2012
- Invasive Species Compendium and Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, pp. 70–71.
- Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route) Regulation 2003 (Qld) - Schedule 2
- O'Flaherty, Antonia (2021-02-17). "Brisbane beekeeper creates editable map to track African tulip trees killing native stingless bees". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
- 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