crown of orchid tree
There was a good discussion, early this spring, in the comments for More flowering trees. Bloggers appreciate comments. They are part of what makes the blogging experience a pleasure. The discussion in this case revolved around some flowering trees here in St. Pete, trees that I found beautiful but had no clue as to their identity (horticulture is not in my skill set). There was disagreement among the readers’ suggestions regarding the identity of one tree in particular (the tree pictured above). One reader suggested it might be an eastern rosebud. Everything I could find online seemed to support her suggestion, so I agreed that was probably it. But, later, another reader said she felt, because of its hue and bark, it wasn’t an eastern rosebud, but was a jacaranda. So…I started digging around about jacarandas online and could see where she might be right—but the leaves where not the right shape for a jacaranda. So, now I was really puzzled.
I learned something from all this: I needed to better document the bark, flowers, and leaves with good close-up photos; a full shot of just the tree crown wasn’t enough information. I returned to the tree in question and did just that. One of those close-ups is immediately below; it shows the bark and leaves of the tree in question.
close-up of orchid tree leaves and bark
I sent those photos to the Pinellas County Extension Service. (I should have thought of them long ago, but didn’t.) They quite generously and immediately wrote back with the identity of the tree. It’s an orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata)! So thank you everyone for all your comments and suggestions and a special thank you to the Extension–what a valuable resource they are.
If you compare the leaves and flowers of the jacaranda tree pictured immediately below with the leaves of the orchid tree pictured immediately above, you can see that they’re quite dissimilar. But, the jacaranda tree was a good guess and they’re absolutely everywhere right now in St. Pete. Not only are they a gorgeous flowering tree, they stay in bloom for quite a long time.
close-up of jacaranda tree flowers and leaves
The Florida Data page for the Jacaranda acutifolia has some very detailed information on jacaranda trees. Florida Data has become my “go to” page for Florida horticulture information. Pictured below are three jacaranda trees in one St. Pete home’s beautiful yard. What a visual treat those three trees are.
three jacaranda trees
I think the tree in another St. Pete yard, pictured below, is a royal poinciana (Delonix regia), also called the flamboyant tree, flame tree, and peacock flower. It’s staggering when you see one. There’s an intensity to the red that I’m not able to capture with a snapshot. I suppose it could be a jacaranda tree with brilliant red flowers because the leaves are identical to my eye. But, I couldn’t find any reference to jacarandas being anything other than purple. I’m pretty sure it’s a royal poinciana. As I understand it, and from my own personal experience, they’re much more common down in Key West than here in St. Pete. I believe they can’t tolerate well even the light frost we get here.
royal poinciana (I think)
Another tree with leaves identical, to my eye, to the jacaranda and the royal poinciana, is the one in the photos below. I don’t think it’s either a jacaranda or royal poinciana, though, because of its size (it’s much larger), the shape of its crown (it’s very evenly rounded and full), and its pods (to my knowledge neither the jacaranda or the royal poinciana have pods). (Click on any of the photos for a larger image.) I’m not certain if this tree flowers–I don’t think it does, but I’ll keep an eye on it to see. My best guess is that it’s a tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica). The picture in Florida Data doesn’t look like the tree pictured here, but the description fits, perfectly. The tree pictured here is located in the parking lot of the City of St. Petersburg Sunshine Center next door to the St. Petersburg Shuffle Board Club (also see The St. Pete Shuffle and St. Pete Shuffle India Night).
leaves & pods of St. Pete tamarind (?) tree
As always, comments are encouraged and appreciated. If you think I’m right about the royal poinciana and tamarind trees, let me know; if you think I’m wrong, then it’s even more important you let me know. Eventually, after some time has passed so I don’t wear out my welcome with the kind folks at the county extension, I’ll ask them what they think.
Here’s a few websites about Florida trees, particularly flowering trees, that I’ve selected from the zillions on Google.
- Florida Data Tree list
- Florida Flowering & Blooming Trees
- University of Florida IFAS Extension — Florida Trees
- Flowering Trees of Florida by Mark K. Stebbins (Google book preview–142 pages)
- Florida Plants
crown of St. Pete tamarind (?) tree
Most images link to larger images.
click on larger image for closeup