Amherstia nobilis, Pride of Burma, Orchid Tree

Amherstia nobilis

Pride of Burma, Orchid Tree
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Origin: Myanmar (Burma)
USDA Zone: 10-11?
USDA Plant Hardiness MapBig tree taller than 20 ftSmall tree 10-20 ftFull sunRegular waterRed, crimson, vinous flowersPlant attracts butterflies, hummingbirds

Perhaps the most beautiful of flowering tropical trees, certainly attractive enough to earn the sobriquet Queen of Flowering Trees. Obscure origins add to the mystique of this noble petite tree. It has only been collected from the wild a couple of times, in the forests of Burma, leading to its common name Pride of Burma. The tree has compound leaves and a great profusion of large, irregular, yellow-spotted scarlet flowers. The genus is named after Lady Sarah Amherst, who collected plants in Asia in the early Nineteenth century. Not only is she commemorated in one of the most beautiful of the worlds trees, she also lends her name to Lady Amherst pheasant one of the most elegant birds. The new leaves are produced in flaccid pale tassels that turn purplish before they green and open out. When not in flower, Amherstia looks similar to Saracca, another Asian legume genus. The leaves unfurl in handkerchief fashion like the Brownea and Maniltoa. New leaf growth is reddish, hangs down at first.

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