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Starr 031210-0047 Spathodea campanulata.jpg
Scientific classification
S. campanulata
Binomial name
Spathodea campanulata

Spathodea is a monotypic genus in the flowering plant family Bignoniaceae. The single species it contains, Spathodea campanulata, is commonly known as the African tuliptree,[1] fountain 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.[citation needed]

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),[2] referring to the spathe-like calyx.[3] It was identified by Europeans in 1787 on the Gold Coast of Africa.[4]


Nandi flame tree in Kerio Valley

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.

Species associations[edit]

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).[5] The wood of the tree is soft and is used for nesting by many hole-building birds such as barbets.

Geographic distribution[edit]

  • Native to: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
  • Exotic in: Australia, Bangladesh,[6] Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Fiji, India, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar, Hawaii, Philippines

It has become an invasive species in many tropical areas such as Hawaii, Queensland (Australia), Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and the wet and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka.[7]

S. campanulata is a declared class 3 pest species in Queensland, Australia, under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002.[8]

Pests and diseases[edit]

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.

Common names[edit]

  • Afrikaans: fakkelboom, Afrika-vlamboom
  • Kannada: Neerukayi mara (ನೀರುಕಾಯಿ ಮರ)
  • English: African tulip tree, fountain tree, Nandi flame, Nile flame, squirt tree, tulip tree, Uganda flame
  • 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



  1. ^ "Spathodea campanulata". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  2. ^ Gledhill, D. (2008). The Names of Plants (4 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3.
  3. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 4 R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2526. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3.
  4. ^ African Tulip Tropical Tree
  5. ^ Baza Mendonça & dos Anjos (2005)
  6. ^ফুটেছে-রুদ্রপলাশ
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route) Regulation 2003 (Qld) - Schedule 2


External links[edit]