African Tulip Tree Information: How To Grow African Tulip Trees

african tulip tree
Image by flemmingmahler

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

What is an African tulip tree? Native to Africa’s tropical rainforests, African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) is a big, impressive shade tree that grows only in the non-freezing climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and above. Want to know more about this exotic tree? Interested in knowing how to grow African tulips trees? Keep reading to find out.

Is African Tulip Tree Invasive?

A cousin to the rambunctious trumpet vine, African tulip tree tends to be invasive in tropical climates, such as Hawaii and southern Florida, where it forms dense thickets that interfere with native growth. It is less problematic in drier climates like southern California and central or northern Florida.


African Tulip Tree Information

African tulip tree is indeed an impressive specimen with gigantic, reddish-orange or golden yellow trumpet-shaped flowers and huge, glossy leaves. It can reach heights of 80 feet, but growth is usually limited to 60 feet or less with a width of about 40 feet. The flowers are pollinated by birds and bats and the seeds are scattered by water and wind.

How to Grow African Tulip Trees

African tulip trees are somewhat difficult to grow by seed but easy to propagate by taking tip or root cuttings, or by planting suckers.

As far as growing conditions, the tree tolerates shade but performs best in full sunlight. Similarly, although it is relatively drought tolerant, African tulip tree is happiest with plenty of moisture. Although it likes rich soil, it will grow in nearly any well-drained soil.

African Tulip Tree Care

Newly planted African tulip trees benefit from regular irrigation. However, once established, the tree requires little attention. It is rarely bothered by pests or disease, but may temporarily shed its leaves during periods of severe drought.

African tulip trees should be pruned regularly because the branches, which tend to be brittle, break easily in harsh winds. For this reason, the tree should be planted away from structures or smaller trees that may be damaged.

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