Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Meet the "Panama Flame Tree" (Rose of Venezuela) - Brownea macrophylla

The Panama Flame Tree or Rose of Venezuela - Brownea macrophylla, is a Native to Venezuela and Colombia in South America where it is found growing in thick forests at low elevations.  It is grown in many tropical regions of the world in garden settings but is not commonly found in the wild. It grows with a very dense umbrella shaped canopy and can reach heights of 20-25 feet tall and 15-20 feet wide. When grown in containers they tend to be much smaller in size as their roots are limited by the size of the container provided. The Panama Flame Tree is a true tropical plant it requires high humidity, tropical temperatures and a completely frost free environment. Brownea is a genus of about 30 species in the family Fabaceae, all small shrubs and trees native to the tropical regions of the Americas.

Flowering does not begin until the 3rd or 4th years of growth (from seed). When it does bloom it is brief lasting only a few days, but it is very memorable. The flowers are Red-Orange in the center with spiky yellow-orange petals radiating out making the flower appear almost urchin like in shape. The flowers occur at the base mature branches or the base of the tree (depending on maturity/size of tree).

The leaves are linear in shape and bright green when mature. When young the leaves can be such a light green that they appear almost white, occasionally they are even variegated in color. The leaves grow a drooping fashion and are sometimes compared to a hanging handkerchief.  The fruits are woody legumes, flat and about 20 cm long and 4 cm wide, they are brown in color and contain few seeds.  The heartwood is used in furntiture construction and is almost black in color.

This tropical plant is not available for purchase at nurseries in the most of the US, even for use as a house plant. Some online nurseries have the tree listed for sale as a house plant but remember before you buy, The Panama Flame is a true tropical and requires high humidity, warm temperatures and zero chance of frost. Even the sunniest window in most US homes would not provide the proper growth environment. I have a very green thumb and this one I would not even try to grow here in the Mid-Atlantic, despite it's beauty!

Here is one nursery called Top Tropicals, they have quite the selection of tropicals , I have not purchased from them so I am unsure of their pricing. 
Image Citations: Top Tropicals (Rare Tropical Plants)  - 

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