Saturday, 14 January 2012

Mellow Yellow (Peltophorum pterocarpum - Yellow Flame Tree,Copperpod, Yellow Poinciana)


I was recently speaking to someone who lives on the Mid- North NSW Coast who has tried these trees with little success. Peltophorum pterocarpum (also known by the more pronunciation-friendly names of Yellow Poinciana or Flame Tree) is native to South - East Asia and Northern Australia. Impressive with masses of yellow blooms, they can reach 25m high with an open, spreading canopy. Despite their beauty, their penchant for individuality by way of irregular growth has made them somewhat unpopular as street trees. I recall seeing them sold in Brisbane, but can't recall seeing any actual specimens planted anywhere.

I first saw this tree on a trip to the Northern Territory in August 2002. They were small specimens planted at the George Brown Darwin Botanical Gardens, and underneath them was a small plant market. At the time they were in full bloom and particularly attractive (funnily enough, last August in Darwin I didn't see even one in bloom).

I never quite got those trees out of my head and when visiting Brisbane last year (almost 10 years later), I purchased a small, severely pot - bound specimen from Templex nursery. That was early July, and it seemed to survive the brunt of Sydney cold well with no discernible damage. However, in an over-zealous attempt to imitate its native monsoonal climate, I let it dry out to the point that the one remaining leaf shriveled up and the tips of the stems died back. I am (almost) convinced that the dry, not the cold set it back - although next winter will be the decider on that one.

The plant just sat there sulking until mid-October, when it burst into green growth (I scraped tiny bits of the trunk beforehand to see if it was still alive). Today this is what mine looks like:

I will be keenly observing how it handles this coming winter. Fingers crossed, if all goes well I may have the most southern-most peltophorum in the country!


  1. Adam I would suggest not using the common name - Yellow Poinciana as it creates confusion with the legitimate Yellow Poinciana otherwise known as Delonix regia var. flavida (a very beautiful but uncommon tree at least in Australia)
    I saw a massive Peltophorum pterocarpum today in Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens in Brisbane. There are lots of them used in Brisbane as street trees but it is worth noting that there are other Peltophorum species which might be confused with P.pterocarpum.

  2. Hi Black Diamond Run

    Interesting.I've never been to Mt Coot-that Botanic Gardens yet, but have heard many great things. Speaking of the real Yellow Poinciana (Delonix Regia), I recently bought one as I know of at least one place selling them here in Sydney.

    Another native I love is the Macaranga Tanarius, but I haven't seen it available here.

  3. I am afraid to grow this tree because it can be very invasive.They become huge in my part of the world (the Caribbean).


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