Flame of the Forest


Flame of the Forest (scientific name Delonix regia), introduced into Singapore during the first half of the 19th century, belongs to the bean family Fabaceae and subfamily Caesalpinioideae.1 It is planted as a shade tree in parks and open spaces due to its broadly-spreading crown, and is an ornamental species recognised for its exuberant scarlet flowers.2

Origin and distribution
The Flame of the Forest is a native species of Madagascar.3 It was discovered by Austrian botanist Wenzel Bojer in 1820 who then introduced it into Mauritius.4 Since then, the tree has been planted in most of Africa and Asia, including the Southeast Asian region.5 Growing in warm humid areas from sea level up to 1000 m in altitude, it can also grow in areas where there is no frost, such as South Florida and South California in the United States.6


The tree was introduced into Singapore as early as 1840.7 It is grown in parks, gardens and roadsides for its bright flowers and the excellent shade it provides. However, the tree sheds numerous twigs, leaves and large woody pods.8

Description
The Flame of the Forest is a medium to large-sized tree and can reach up to 20 m in height.9 It has a short trunk, grey and smooth bark, and root-like buttresses.10 Its crown is broad and umbrella-shaped, consisting of fine, delicate, lacy foliage.11 Leaves are bi-pinnate compound, 20 to 60 cm long, with 9 to 24 pairs of opposite side-stalks and numerous small leaflets.12 The leaflets are small and oblong, 8 to 12 mm long and 3 to 4 mm wide.13 Flowers are bisexual, large and showy.14


Growing in dense clusters and sometimes covering the entire crown, the flowers are flame-coloured or scarlet and faintly scented.15 The flower is made up of the calyx, five free sepals which are green on the outside and crimson inside; the corolla with five bright red petals, one of which has a prominent white patch streaked with red; ten stamens which are red with a white base; and a green ovary.16 Fruits are long, sword-like pods that dangle down from the branches.17 When the fruits mature, they split open into two halves to disperse hard, elongated seeds.18

The Flame of the Forest is a deciduous tree.19 Leaves normally fold at dusk but remain spread if illuminated by street lamps.20 The leaves are shed rather irregularly, often different branches at different times, but sometimes all the branches at the same time.21 It flowers best under sub-tropical conditions, especially after an extended period of dry weather.22 The trees shed their leaves at the end of the wet season and remain bare for several months during the dry season.23 With the return of the rains, new leaves are produced with new flowers, resulting in the characteristic scarlet, orange to crimson blooms.24 The attractive flowers can remain on the crown for several weeks.25 Leaf-shedding occurs at different times among individual trees in Singapore and other places that do not experience marked seasonal changes.26  

Usage
The Flame of the Forest is often described as a spectacular and beautiful tree when it is in full bloom.27 It is therefore planted as an ornamental tree in parks, gardens and along roads.28 In addition, its broad umbrella-shaped crown makes it a good shade tree.29 The bark is used as a febrifuge (cooling drink to prevent fever).30


Variant names
Common name: Flame of the Forest.

Scientific name: Delonix regia or Poinciana regia.31
Other names: Flamboyant, Merak (Indonesia), Semarkat api (Malaysia), Seinban (Myanmar), Cabellero (Philippines), Hang nok yung farang (Thailand), Phuong (Vietnam).32



Author
Nureza Ahmad




References
1. National Parks Board. (2009). Trees of our garden city: A guide to the common trees of Singapore. Singapore: National Parks Board, p. 80. (Call no.: RSING 582.16095957 TRE); Jensen, M. (1995).Trees commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia: An illustrated field guide. Bangkok, Thailand: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 582.160959 JEN)
2. National Parks Board. (2009). Trees of our garden city: A guide to the common trees of Singapore. Singapore: National Parks Board, p. 81. (Call no.: RSING582.16095957 TRE); National Parks Board. (2013). Delonix regia. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from National Parks Board website: https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg/Special-Pages/plant-detail.aspx?id=2838
3. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
4. Corner, E. J. H. (1988). Wayside trees of Malaya (Vol. 1). Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature Society, p. 435. (Call no.: RSING 582.1609595 COR)
5. Jensen, M. (1995).Trees commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia: An illustrated field guide. Bangkok, Thailand: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 582.160959 JEN)
6. Jensen, M. (1995).Trees commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia: An illustrated field guide. Bangkok, Thailand: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 582.160959 JEN); Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: a selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
7. Corner, E. J. H. (1988). Wayside trees of Malaya (Vol. 1). Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature Society, p. 435. (Call no.: RSING 582.1609595 COR)
8. National Parks Board. (2013). Delonix regia. Retrieved  March 20, 2016, from National Parks Board website: https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg/Special-Pages/plant-detail.aspx?id=2838
9. National Parks Board. (2009). Trees of our garden city: A guide to the common trees of Singapore. Singapore: National Parks Board, p. 80. (Call no.: RSING 582.16095957 TRE)
10. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE); Jensen, M. (1995).Trees commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia: An illustrated field guide. Bangkok, Thailand: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 582.160959 JEN)
11. National Parks Board. (2009). Trees of our garden city: A guide to the common trees of Singapore,p. 80. Singapore: National Parks Board, p. 80. (Call no.: RSING 582.16095957 TRE)
12. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
13. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE); Jensen, M. (1995).Trees commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia: An illustrated field guide. Bangkok, Thailand: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 582.160959 JEN)
14. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
15. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, pp. 32–33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
16. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE); Kwok, P. K. P. (1986). A guide to the Singapore Science Centre Ecogarden. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 KWO)
17. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
18. National Parks Board. (2009). Trees of our garden city: A guide to the common trees of Singapore. Singapore: National Parks Board, p. 81. (Call no.: RSING 582.16095957 TRE)
19. National Parks Board. (2013). Delonix regia. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from National Parks Board website: https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg/Special-Pages/plant-detail.aspx?id=2838
20. Rao, A. N., & Wee, Y. C. (1989). Singapore trees. Singapore: Singapore Institute of Biology, p.135. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 RAO)
21. Rao, A. N., & Wee, Y. C. (1989). Singapore trees. Singapore: Singapore Institute of Biology, p.135. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 RAO)
22. Rao, A. N., & Wee, Y. C. (1989). Singapore trees. Singapore: Singapore Institute of Biology, p.135. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 RAO); Warren, W. (1996). Tropical flowers of Malaysia and Singapore. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, p. 23. (Call no.: SING 581.95957 WAR)
23. Warren, W. (1996). Tropical flowers of Malaysia and Singapore. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, p. 23. (Call no.: SING 581.95957 WAR); Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
24. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
25. Rao, A. N., & Wee, Y. C. (1989). Singapore trees. Singapore: Singapore Institute of Biology, p.135. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 RAO)
26. National Parks Board. (2013). Delonix regia. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from National Parks Board website: https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg/Special-Pages/plant-detail.aspx?id=2838
27. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
28. Jensen, M. (1995).Trees commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia: An illustrated field guide. Bangkok, Thailand: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 582.160959 JEN)
29. Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)
30. Rao, A. N., & Wee, Y. C. (1989). Singapore trees. Singapore: Singapore Institute of Biology, p.135. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 RAO)
31. National Parks Board. (2013). Delonix regia. Retrieved  March 20, 2016, from National Parks Board website: https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg/Special-Pages/plant-detail.aspx?id=2838
32. Jensen, M. (1995).Trees commonly cultivated in Southeast Asia: An illustrated field guide. Bangkok, Thailand: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP), p. 107. (Call no.: RSING 582.160959 JEN); Wee, Y. C. (2003). Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for urban planting. Singapore: Sun Tree Publishing, p. 33. (Call no.: SING 582.16095957 WEE)



The information in this article is valid as at 6 May 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Delonix--Singapore
Plants
Science and technology>>Agriculture>>Forestry
Trees--Singapore
Royal poinciana--Singapore
Nature>>Plants

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore 2010.