What are those stunning flowering trees in the Café Forecourt? Without a doubt, one of the most eye-catching flowering trees in Centennial Park would have to be the African tulip tree, or Spathodea campanulata.
The Parklands’ Landscape Architect, Gillian Smart, introduced four African tulip trees to Centennial Park as part of the 1997 redevelopment of the Café forecourt. Our staff at the Visitor Information Counter (located opposite the trees) are always being asked about them, so we thought we’d share their origins with you.
The flower of the African Tulip Tree
A member of the Bigonia family, this spectacular tree comes from tropical central and western Africa, mainly around Lake Victoria and is therefore suited to warm coastal sites. Curiously, although it is an evergreen tree in the more tropical climates, it is semi-deciduous in Centennial Park. It grows to a height of eight metres, with a single trunk and a broad-domed crown and displays compound leaves that are dark green and slightly shiny above, while paler and dull beneath.
The highlight for most admirers of the African tulip tree are the beautiful bell-shaped flowers ranging from yellow at the base to scarlet near the mouth on the inside, and bright orange merging to orange-scarlet on the lobes. It is these flowers that give the tree its Latin name ‘campanulata’ meaning ‘with bell-shaped flowers’.
Although the striking, perfumed flowers are this tree’s most eye-catching feature, the fruit of the tree is also very interesting. After the foliage is shed during the cooler months, the fruit ripens in autumn and persists on the tree, forming numerous, flat, oval wing-shaped seeds that are quite unique.
Have you tried to grow an African tulip tree in your garden? Send us a picture.
African Tulip Tree - located in the CP Dining forecourt