Know your alien invasive plant: African Tulip Tree

A African Tulip Tree or Spathodea campanula alien invasive plant. PHOTO: www.staticflicker.com

THIS week, Hillcrest Conservancy, takes a look at the African Tulip Tree, as part of its series of articles on alien invasive plants, to help the community to identify and eradicate them from their gardens.

The African Tulip Tree’s scientific name is Spathodea campanula, but it is also known as the African Flame tree and vlamboom in Afrikaans.

Description: This is a large semi evergreen tree growing up to 18 metres tall, the leaves are glossy with a pale underside and are large and grow up to 450 mm. The leaves are gold when young. The flowers are also large cup-shaped bright orange or red 100 mm X 70 mm, with a spathe-like calyx, hence the name. The seed pods appear as a silhouette on the crown of the tree and sometimes resembl ae bird perched there. The capsules are 15-25 mm long with papery winged seeds.

Where does the species come from? It originally came from West Africa but has spread throughout the tropics and has invaded many Pacific islands.

What is its invasive status in South Africa? This is a category 3 NEMBA plant and one which most people will be surprised to see on the list.

Where in South Africa is it a problem? KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

Why is it a problem? It has the potential to spread widely in KZN and may therefore no longer be sold or traded in any way. It may transform natural habits and can be found invading a number of local conservation areas.

How does it spread? It spreads via wind-dispersal seeds and from root suckers and cuttings.

Does the plant have any uses? These trees were introduced as ornamentals and to line streets.

Contact Ian Pattrick on 079 909 5458 or Hillcrest Conservancy chairman, George Victor, on 073 901 3902 or e-mail georgevic@telkomsa.net

 

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