Flame Tree - Brachychiton Acerifolius

The Flame tree (Brachychiton acerilolius) is not the only tree species to be called by the name "Flame" but in my opinion is the one that bests fits the name. It normally drops all of its leaves just prior to the blossoms forming in bright red clusters that turn the whole tree into one big mass of red. I found this tree in Malaga, Spain even though it is native to Australia. The Brachychiton acerifolius leaves are large and can vary from one to nine lobes (even on the same tree).


The flowers are like little bells, about 1cm across. They are bright red and do not vary in color. They are about the same size as the Brachychiton populneus "bells" but are a good deal smaller than the flowers of the Brachychiton discolor or Brachychiton bidwillii. The Flame tree also has a naturally occurring hybrid that is a cross with the B.discolor that is called "Clarabelle".

The images below are a serious of pictures that I have taken near my home that illustrate how the seedpods develop from flower to full maturity. Notice how in the first picture the seedpods are already forming inside of one of the small "bells".

In the next picture you can see what is left of the flower at the base of the growing seed pods.

These pods can grow in clusters of 2-5 and it is very common to see them in a star pattern like the one below.

Notice how at this state the flowers have all fallen off the tree but the leaves have yet to form. On some of the trees I have noticed that not all of the leaves fall off.
The seed pod cracks open when it is fully mature exposing a number of bright yellow seeds that are encased in a hairy coating.



If you like this tree you may also like these others as well...
Bush Kurrajong
Little Kurrajong
Weeping Bottlebrush tree
Brachychiton discolor x acerifolius "Clarabelle"

7 comments:

  1. You can find several mature specimens of this tree along the sidewalk of South Osprey avenue in Sarasota Florida.

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  2. hi dan,
    it'so nice to find out the name of a strange tree i've already seen in spain. i'm from the north of italy, I couldn't see any of them here.

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  3. Giulia - In Spain these trees only grow along the south coast. Even in the middle of the country in Spain they do not grow well. I did get one comment from someone in Italy who said that the Brachychiton Populneus does grow in the south of Italy.

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  4. Excuse my ignorance, but I love this tree and was thinking of buying one at the local Viveros, but was wondering if it is not an invasive species

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  5. Anonymous - Invasiveness would depend on your location. If your are in Spain then no I don´t think that the Flame tree is invasive at all.

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  6. We picked up a pod, fallen from an old pavement tree in Swellendam, South Africa. Managed to grow out five plants but we had no idea what they were. At last we have identified it from your blog. Thanks a ton. Will have to check if we are allowed to set it free in our garden because some plants no longer permissible.

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  7. I have one of these nearby in Spain (gandia) and the blooming (May) is quite spectacular. I am waiting for the pods to mature (August 4 now) so I can grow some. I read somewhere that the seeds are edible...i wonder if that thick shower of red is ever used for tea. Amazing the way it just drops all of its leaves and goes stark red (dotted black with old seed pods). This one is 20 meters high and fully blooms.

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