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Publication #FOR303

Tabebuia serratifolia, Yellow Trumpet Tree1

Michael G. Andreu, Melissa H. Friedman, and Robert J. Northrop2


Bignoniaceae, bignonia family


The genus name Tabebuia, originating from the Tupian (Brazil) words that translate to “ant” and “wood,” refers to the mutually beneficial relationship thought to occur between ant colonies and this genus.


The species name serratifolia comes from a combination of the Latin words serra, meaning “saw-like” or “serrated,” and folia, meaning “leaf,” in reference to the serrated or toothed edges on the leaves of this species.

Common Name

Yellow trumpet tree, Yellow poui

The word “yellow” refers to the brightly colored flowers this tree produces. The term “trumpet tree” is in reference to the shape of the flowers, each of which resembles a single trumpet.

Figure 1. 

Tabebuia serratifolia, yellow trumpet tree.


Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


This deciduous tree is native to South and Central America, and has been introduced to the Caribbean islands, United States, Kenya, and India. It grows best in warm and moist climates when in full sun.

While it can reach heights of up to 100 feet in its native range, yellow trumpet tree reaches heights between 25 and 40 feet in Florida. Its bright-green leaves are palmately compound and are composed of 3–5 leaflets, with the center leaflet being the largest at 6–10 inches in length. The smooth bark is grayish tan, and the characteristic yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers are arranged in clusters on exposed branches. In Florida, the flowers bloom from late winter to early spring and seeds are 10-inch-long bean-like capsules.


Pollen from this tree is moderately allergenic.



In its native range, the strong and durable hardwood from this species is used in the construction of homes, bridges, and railway sleepers. While the wood is considered to be highly resistant to decay, it is susceptible to damage from crustaceans and mollusks in marine environments.


Yellow trumpet tree is commonly planted in Florida as an ornamental landscape and shade tree. Many people find the bright, yellow blossoms to be highly attractive, especially since they are produced in the absence of leaves. Once established, this tree is drought tolerant, making it easier to care for and less demanding on water resources. Yellow trumpet tree also has a relatively high tolerance to salt spray, and therefore is an appropriate street tree or yard specimen in coastal areas.


The bark of this genus contains the compound lapachol, which has been suggested to have anti-cancer properties; however, this compound has also been found to be toxic. Additionally, the inner bark of this genus is thought to have antifungal properties.

Additional References

Gilman, E. F. (1997). Trees for Urban and Suburban Landscapes. United States: Delmar Publishers.

James Cook University (2012). Tabebuia serratifolia = Handroanthus serratifolius. Retrieved from

National Tropical Botanical Garden. (2012). Tabebuia serratifolia (Bignoniaceae). Retrieved from

Watkins, J. V., Sheehan, T. J., & Black, R. J. (2005). Florida Landscape Plants: Native and Exotic. (2nd ed). Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.



This document is FOR303, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date July 2012. Reviewed October 2015. Visit the EDIS website at


Michael G. Andreu, associate professor; Melissa H. Friedman, research scientist; School of Forest Resources and Conservation; and Robert J. Northrop, Extension forester, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.