In December, a spectacular sight can be seen; trees covered in flame-red flowers. In Tanzania during the month of December certain trees flower. These include the vibrant purple Jacaranda and the flamboyant tree – my favourite.
The scientific name is Delonix regia and it belongs to the pea family of Fabaceae. Other common names include the flame tree and the royal poinciana. However, in Tanzania the locals call it the Christmas tree.
Native to Madagascar, the flamboyant tree can be found in almost every tropical and sub-tropical country around the world. It is quite drought resistant and its umbrella-shaped canopy provides a lot of shade. It is also a fast grower reaching a height of between 6 and 12 meters.
This tree is a popular ornamental tree is because of its dashing colour when flowering. The flowers are almost orchid-shaped, about 10cm big and when in full bloom the entire tree is covered in flowers; one of the reasons why this tree is so spectacular. Seeing it from afar all you see is red red red! Pods can grow long as 50cm and make for interesting decorations once dried out. It keeps the kids busy too – the seeds inside rattle when it’s shaken.
Travelling in Tanzania in December you will see these beautiful trees, they are planted along streets and in gardens and can be found throughout the country.