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Publication #ENH387

Delonix regia: Royal Poinciana1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

This many-branched, broad, spreading, flat-crowned deciduous tree is well-known for its brilliant display of red-orange bloom, literally covering the tree tops from May to July. There is nothing like a Royal Poinciana (or better yet, a group of them) in full bloom. The fine, soft, delicate leaflets afford dappled shade during the remainder of the growing season, making Royal Poinciana a favorite shade tree or freestanding specimens in large, open lawns. The tree is often broader than tall, growing about 40 feet high and 60 feet wide. Trunks can become as large as 50 inches or more in diameter. Eighteen-inch-long, dark brown seed pods hang on the tree throughout the winter, then fall on the ground in spring creating a nuisance.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Delonix regia: Royal Poinciana


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General Information

Scientific name: Delonix regia
Pronunciation: dee-LOE-nicks REE-jee-uh
Common name(s): Royal Poinciana
Family: Leguminosae
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Figure 2. 

Range


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Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: According to the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (IFAS Invasive Plant Working Group 2008), Delonix regia should be treated with caution in the south zone in Florida, may be recommended but managed to prevent escape. It is not considered a problem species and may be recommended in the north and central zone in Florida (counties listed by zone at: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/assess_counties.pdf)
Uses: street without sidewalk; specimen; shade; reclamation; urban tolerant
Availability: not native to North America

Description

Height: 35 to 40 feet
Spread: 40 to 60 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: vase, spreading
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: bipinnately compound
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: oblong
Leaf venation: unknown
Leaf type and persistence: semi-evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage


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Flower

Flower color: red, orange
Flower characteristics: very showy

Figure 4. 

Flower.


Credit:

Korhnak


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Fruit

Fruit shape: elongated, pod or pod-like
Fruit length: 12 inches or more
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Figure 5. 

Fruit.


Credit:

UF/IFAS


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Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: green, brown
Current year twig thickness: medium, thick
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: low

Other

Roots: can form large surface roots
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Royal Poinciana will provide fullest flowering and best growth when planted in full sun locations. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils and conditions, Royal Poinciana needs to be well-watered until established, then only during the severest droughts. Grass grows poorly beneath poinciana. Do not plant closer than about 10 feet from pavement or sidewalks, since large surface roots often grow beneath them and can destroy them. Early pruning is required to encourage development of branches which are well-attached to the trunk. This will help compensate for the weak wood. Train the tree so the major limbs are located 8 to 12 feet from the ground to allow for adequate clearance beneath the tree. To develop a strong, durable tree, prune major limbs to prevent them from growing to more than half the diameter of the trunk.

Propagation is by seed.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern although caterpillars can eat some foliage. There is a root fungus which can kill a weakened tree.

Literature Cited

Fox, A.M., D.R. Gordon, J.A. Dusky, L. Tyson, and R.K. Stocker (2008) IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas: Status Assessment. Cited from the Internet (November 16, 2012), http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/pdfs/status_assessment.pdf

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH387, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date November 1993. Revised February 2013. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, 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.