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What is Peltophorum?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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Peltophorum is a flowering tree native to the coastal regions of northern Australia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It can also be found in Hawaii and southern Florida, though it is not considered indigenous to these regions. The peltophorum is a fast-growing tree often planted for shade. Its blooms are typically yellow. It normally thrives best in warm climates, and usually needs moist and well-drained soil, and partial shade.

These trees grow fast, and may reach heights of up to 50 feet (15.24 m). The branches of the peltophorum typically form a wide, umbrella-shaped crown that may be as big as 25 feet (7.6 m) in diameter. The twigs of this tree are usually covered in fuzz. The bipinnate leaves are normally about 2 inches (5.08 cm) long. Pairs of ovular leaflets, each about 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) long, may appear near each fully grown leaf.

The peltophorum typically produces yellow flowers. These flowers may be found on erect stems about 18 inches (45.7 cm) long. Flowers may be as big as 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter. Petals are often crinkly in appearance and may be slightly translucent, and they generally sport a central brownish-red mark. The stamens of this plant are normally bright orange.

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Seed pods of the peltophorum are usually long and flattened in appearance. Seed pods may be brown or purplish-brown in color, and may be 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm) in length. Seed pods fall from the tree when the following season's blooms appear.

These trees are very cold intolerant and should ideally be cultivated in tropical or subtropical regions where frost does not occur. They typically thrive best in partial shade. They may tolerate full sun, but usually need more water in order to do so.

Peltophorum trees generally like well-drained, but moist soil. These fast-growing trees are often cultivated as a source of shade in gardens and along city streets. The fragrant flowers are attractive to bees, birds, and butterflies. Animals may be attracted to the tender young leaves and seed pods.

Propagating the peltophorum can be more complicated than propagating other plants. In nature, this tree self-propagates through seeds that have passed through the digestive tracts of birds or other animals. Gardeners are advised to replicate this natural process by filing the hard outer shell of the seed with sandpaper before submerging it in boiling water or an acid solution to soften it.

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