Thai Name – Haang-nok-yuung farang (หางนกยูงฝรั่ง)
Scientific Name – Delonix regia
Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Other English Names – Flamboyant, Royal poinciana
Flowering Season – April-June
Native to Thailand – No
Typical Height – 6-12 meters
Not only are flame trees one of the world’s most beautiful flowering trees, the individual flowers, which look sort of like orchids, are also strikingly beautiful. At peak bloom, a flame tree’s crown will be full of these blazing orange or red flowers. They have five petals, all of which begin essentially the same, but white and yellow streaks later emerge on the uppermost petal, which is a bit larger than the others. The scientific name (Delonix regia) means essentially “magnificent claw.” The Thai name means “peacock tail flower,” though this is odd as there is no resemblance to peacocks or tails. There is no standard shape for the trees. If given lots of space, flame trees grow umbrella-like, stretching wider than they are tall, but it’s more typical to see them with narrower crowns. The crowns are often irregular since the branches are not particularly strong and break off easily. The trunks generally split into large branches rather low down, but there can be a tall trunk. Flame tree leaves are large (up to 60cm long) and look like giant green feathers or ferns. They are double compound (aka twice pinnate or bipinnate), meaning each leaf has branches coming off the main stem and these branches have multiple leaflets. There can be more than 2000 little leaflets (about 1cm long) per leaf. The long (they can be as long as the leaves) flat seed pods start out green and turn dark brown, staying in the tree for a long time. The small seeds pop out over time as the pod skin wears away.