I really need a bumper sticker on my car that says: “Warning! I brake for exotic tropical trees” and that is exactly what I did a few weeks ago while driving with my friend Sue (a fellow horticulturist) through southern Ensenada.
And there she was, how could I miss her? I had to stop and take a photo: the African Tulip tree (“Spathodea campanulata”). Clusters of tulip-shaped, 4 inch flowers show off at the end of the branches, in shades of red from blood
red to scarlet. This tree was loaded with breathtaking flowers!
This exotic beauty is native to tropical South Africa (where I had seen them blooming), but my first introduction to this gorgeous tree was back in the 1980’s in Balboa Park, two on either side of the entrance to San Diego’s Natural History Museum.
Anyway, a blooming African Tulip Tree deserves to be a show-stopper, although in Hawaii it is considered a rampant yet exotic weed, adorning the hillsides along Maui’s famous Hana Highway. You may still discover one in bloom around Ensenada.