Plants of New Caledonia – Flame vs African tulip
plants of new caledonia - african tulip tree and flame tree

Whether you are interested or not by the plants of New Caledonia, there are 2 trees that you can’t miss during your visit to our island: the Flame tree and the African tulip tree!

Both are covered with redish/orange flowers but they are not to be confused.

First let’s clarify that those 2 plants of New Caledonia are not endigenous to the archipelago. Nonetheless, they are now commonly found in gardens as ornamental trees!

plants of new caledonia - flame tree

The most well-known is the flame tree (Delonix regia). We locally call it flamboyant (meaning in French carrying beautiful colours 🙂 ).  It is native to the island of Madagascar, but does grow very well on New Caledonia’s west coast. It is associated with summer holidays as it starts flowering in November till End of December and is somehow our Christmas tree ;). Most of the flame trees in New Caledonia have red flowers, but occasionally you can find a yellow flame tree. There is one yellow flame tree for instance at New Caledonia’s Bernheim public library. Flowers of the flame tree are edible and you can sometimes see kids eating the 5th petal which is spotted with yellow and white.

Not to be confused is the African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata – “Tulipier du Gabon” in French). It is locally much less known than the flame tree and is sometimes wrongly called flamboyant by local people but don’t be confused. The African tulip tree does flower during the fresh season (July to September) contrary to to the flame tree. It also has larger leaves and flowers than the flame tree.

Don’t be fooled by the beautiful flowers of the African tulip tree, it is an invasive species in many tropical areas such as Hawaii, Queensland (Australia) … and has now spread beyond the gardens of Noumea to be found in the forest of New Caledonia ;)!

Want to know more about our plants, indigenous or not. Contact us and we will be happy to organize your botanical tour!

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