African Tulip Tree
- An evergreen tree.
- Size: up to 25 m high.
- Leaves: when mature they are oval shaped, a glossy dark green with distinct veins, and arranged either side of a stem which is up to 20 cm long. Younger leaves are paler with hairs on the underside.
- Flowers: orange-red and bell-shaped, they are 8 – 12 cm long and grouped in large clusters on the tree. The petals have frilly edges and a crinkled look when they first unfold from the velvety bronze-green bud.
- Fruit/seed: a red-brown elongated seed pod that is slightly compressed and tapers from a rounded base to a point at one end. It is 17 – 25 cm long and 3.5 – 7 cm wide. When it reaches maturity, it splits to release the seeds inside.
What to Observe
- First fully open single flower
- Full flowering (record all days)
- End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)
- Open seed pods (record all days)
- First fully open leaf
- Leaves open (record all days)
- First leaf to change colour
- Leaves changing colour (record all days)
- First leaf to drop this year
- 50% or more of leaves dropped (record all days)
- No leaves (record all days)
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
We expect plants to start shooting and flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas, as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.
When To Look
- From September through to March
- Flowers appear in September
- Seed pods appear after flowers
Where To Look
- Within the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Australia, except in frost-prone areas.
- In urban areas – in gardens, parks and roadsides – and also in agricultural areas and natural forests.
- Look in urban areas, particularly along streets.
Australian Biological Resources Study 1982. Flora of Australia Volume 33. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study.
Menninger EA 1962. Flowering trees of the world. Hearthside Press, New York.
Miller H and Ratcliffe R 1990. Top Plants for Tropical Gardens. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Randall RP 2002. A Global Compendium of Weeds. RG & FJ Richardson, Melbourne.
Royal Horticultural Society 1992. Dictionary of Gardening. The Macmillan Press Limited, London.
Walther G, Post E, Convey P, Menzel A, Parmesan C, Beebee TJC, Fromentin J, Hoegh-Guldberg O, and Bairlein F 2002. Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416: 389–395.
Did You Know?
The African Tulip Tree is native to tropical Africa.
It is declared a weed in some parts of Australia as it infests gullies, waterways and disturbed rainforest, crowding out native vegetation.
Its buds and newly opened flowers are filled with nectar, making it popular with birds.
Its trunk develops buttresses as it matures.
It grows very quickly up to a height of 24 m.