Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Spathodea campanulata
(African tulip tree)



Spathodea campanulata (African tulip tree)


  • Last modified
  • 15 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Spathodea campanulata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • African tulip tree
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. campanulata is widely and commonly known as the African tulip tree, and has been introduced pan-tropically for its ornamental value. However, profuse fruiting and the masses of wind-dispersed seeds means tha...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report


Top of page
TitleTree habit
CopyrightK.M. Kochummen
Tree habitK.M. Kochummen
CopyrightK.M. Kochummen
BoleK.M. Kochummen


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Spathodea campanulata P. Beauv.

Preferred Common Name

  • African tulip tree

Other Scientific Names

  • Bignonia tulipifera Schum.
  • Spathodea campanulata susp. congolana Bidgood
  • Spathodea campanulata susp. nilotica (Seem.) Bidgood
  • Spathodea danckelmaniana Büttner
  • Spathodea nilotica Seem.
  • Spathodea nilotica f. bryanii O. Deg. & I. Deg.
  • Spathodea tulipifera (Schum.) G. Don

International Common Names

  • English: fireball; flame of the forest; Flame tree; fountain tree; Gabon tulip tree; Nandi flame; Nile flame; squirt tree; tulip tree; Uganda flame
  • Spanish: amapola; espatodea; galeana; gallito; llama del bosque; llama Nandi; mampolo; meaito; miona; tulipán Africano; tulipanero
  • French: baton du sorcier; flamme de la forêt; immortel étranger; pissat de singe; pisse l'eau; pisse-pisse; tulipier d'Afrique; tulipier du Gabon

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: arvore-da-bisnaga; bisnagueira; espadódea; sejagan; tulipa-da-áfrica; tulipeiro-da-áfrica; tulipero-africano
  • China: neerukayi maru (Cantonese)
  • Cook Islands: mata koii; mimi; patati vai; pititi vai
  • Fiji: taga mimi
  • Germany: Afrikanischer Tulpenbaum; Tulpenbaum, Afrikanischer
  • India: Nandi flame; patadi (Tamil); Rugtoora (Hindi)
  • Kenya: kibobakasi (Swahili)
  • Malaysia: panchut-panchut
  • Mexico: tulipero de Gabón
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: dulip en Aprika (Pohnpei); ramingobchey; tuhke dulip
  • Palau: orsachel kui
  • Samoa: fa'apasi
  • Spain: tulipanero de Gabón
  • Sri Lanka: kudaella gaha (Sinhala); kudulu; patadi (Tamil)
  • Tonga: tiale akapisipisi; tiulipe
  • Uganda: kibobakasi; kifabakazi; sebetaiyet

EPPO code

  • SPOCA (Spathodea campanulata)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

S. campanulata is widely and commonly known as the African tulip tree, and has been introduced pan-tropically for its ornamental value. However, profuse fruiting and the masses of wind-dispersed seeds means that only a few trees can begin a process of invasion, and suckering ensures that it is difficult to remove by standard cutting methods. It is invasive in many countries, mostly tropical islands in the Pacific, Indian and Caribbean, but also Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Australia. Removal of trees is highly recommended, particularly when they are in close proximity to natural vegetation or waterways.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Scrophulariales
  •                         Family: Bignoniaceae
  •                             Genus: Spathodea
  •                                 Species: Spathodea campanulata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

Some consider Spathodea as a monospecific genus with Spathodea campanulata as the only species, whereas others include S. obvata Kunth as a second species (e.g. USDA-ARS, 2008). The only recorded synonym for S. campanulata is S. nilotica from the extreme east of the native range in Uganda, and it may be sufficiently distinct to merit varietal status. will There are clearly morphological similarities with many other genera, as Spathodea spp. are recorded as synonyms for species belonging to a range of genera including Dolichandrone, Halophragma, Markhamia, Newbouldia, Phryganocydia, Radermachera and Tabebuia.


Top of page

S. campanulata is a medium-size to large tree up to 35 m tall and 175 cm in diameter. It has a stout and sometimes buttressed trunk, thick branches spotted with small white lenticels. Leaves are usually opposite (rarely 3 at a node), very widely diverging, up to 50 cm long, (7-) 11-15 (-17) leaflets broadly elliptic or ovate, entire, to 15 x 7.5 cm, with 7-8 principal veins on each side, puberulent and prominent beneath, apex very slightly acuminate, base somewhat asymmetrically obtuse, lower leaflets tending to be reflexed, petiolule short, 2-3 mm, rachis nearly straight, brownish-puberulent, petiole up to 6 cm long, thickened at base. Raceme are 8-10 cm long on a peduncle of about the same length, with a pair of reduced leaves about halfway up, rachis and pedicels thick, brownish puberulent, bracts subtending pedicels lanceolate, curved, about 1 cm long, caducous, pair of bractlets near summit of pedicel similar, opposite; calyx strongly curved upward, asymmetric, about 5 cm long, tapering, somewhat ribbed, splitting at anthesis to within a few mm of base along dorsal curve, apex horn-like, blunt, exterior brownish sericeous puberulent; corolla bright vermilion or scarlet, 10-12 cm long, mouth of limb about 7 cm across, lobes about 3 cm long, obtuse, margins strongly crispate, orange-yellow; filaments about 5 cm long, dull orange anthers arcuate, linear, very dark brown, 15 mm long; style yellow, 8 cm long, stigma reddish. Fruit capsules are lanceolate, slightly compressed, 17-25 x 3.5-7 cm (adapted from PIER, 2008).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


Top of page

It is indigenous to Africa with a native range that extends along the west coast from <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on">Guinea to <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on">Angola, and inland across the tropical rainforest region to southern <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on">Sudan and <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on"><_st13a_place _w3a_st="on">Uganda, however, the exact limits are uncertain, and nativity in neighbouring countries is possible, or it is introduced in the extremes of this range. Several report (e.g. ICRAF, 2008) a more restricted native range to the west, only as far as <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on">Ghana, and stretching further at the eastern extreme to include <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on">Ethiopia to <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on"><_st13a_place _w3a_st="on">Zambia, and the broader range is accepted here.

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


BangladeshPresent Planted CABI, 2005
Brunei DarussalamPresent Planted CABI, 2005
ChinaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive Swarbrick and Hart, 2001; PIER, 2008
IndiaPresentIntroduced1880sRangaiah et al., 2004, publ. 2006
-Andhra PradeshPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-DelhiPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-KarnatakaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-Tamil NaduPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-Uttar PradeshPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-West BengalPresent Planted CABI, 2005
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-Irian JayaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-JavaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-KalimantanPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-MoluccasPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-SulawesiPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-SumatraPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-SabahPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-SarawakPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
SingaporePresentIntroduced1910s Invasive Planted PIER, 2008
Sri LankaPresentIntroduced1873 Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
ThailandPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008


AngolaPresentNative Not invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
BeninPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
BurundiPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
CameroonPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedDiniz, 1996
Central African RepublicPresentNativeGovaerts, 2013
ComorosPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
CongoPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
Côte d'IvoirePresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
EgyptPresentIntroduced Not invasive Nazif, 2007
Equatorial GuineaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
GhanaPresentNative Not invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
GuineaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
KenyaPresentNative Not invasive ICRAF, 2008
LiberiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
MalawiPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
MayottePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
NigeriaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
RwandaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
SenegalPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
SeychellesPresentIntroducedPIER, 2008; USDA-ARS, 2008Naturalised
Sierra LeonePresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
South AfricaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted La-Serna et al., 1991; Sanchez, 2001
SudanPresentNative Not invasive Natural ICRAF, 2008
SwazilandPresentIntroduced Not invasive Planted Amusan et al., 1995
TanzaniaPresentNative Not invasive ICRAF, 2008
-ZanzibarPresent Planted CABI, 2005
TogoPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
UgandaPresentNative Natural ICRAF, 2008; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
West AfricaPresent Natural CABI, 2005
ZambiaPresentNative Not invasive ICRAF, 2008

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
USALocalisedIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2008
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-FloridaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008; USDA-NRCS, 2008
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008; USDA-ARS, 2008

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Tortola and Virgin Gorda
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003; Díaz et al., 2004Guamuhaya Mountains
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedGovaerts, 2013
JamaicaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Kairo et al., 2003Listed as one of the 100 worst invasive species on the island
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Saba
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
PanamaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted Kairo et al., 2003; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008; USDA-NRCS, 2008
Saint LuciaPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Graveson, 2012Spreading along Union River and elsewhere; potential threat to semi-evergreen seasonal forest
Trinidad and TobagoPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2008

South America

BoliviaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
BrazilPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-BahiaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-ParaibaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-ParanaPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-PernambucoPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
-Sao PauloPresentIntroduced Invasive I3N-Brasil, 2013
ColombiaPresentIntroduced Planted Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008
EcuadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
French GuianaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
ParaguayPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
PeruPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008


SpainPresentIntroducedSanchez, 2001Planted as ornamental


American SamoaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
AustraliaLocalisedIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Meyer, 2004; PIER, 2008
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Auld and Nagatalevu-Seniloli, 2003; PIER, 2008
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Meyer, 2004; PIER, 2008
-MarquesasPresentIntroducedEnglberger, 2009
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted McConnell and Muniappan, 1991; PIER, 2008
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008; Englberger, 2009Invasive in Pohnpei. Also found in Chuuk and Yap
NauruPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive Bito, 2007
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
VanuatuPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

S. campanulata has been successfully planted as an ornamental throughout the humid tropics, and its actual distribution is likely to be more widespread than indicated in this datasheet. Introduction to South Asia occurred at the end of the 1800s and other introductions may have been as old. It is now recorded as invasive in Hawaii, USA, and many other Pacific islands, also Australia, Singapore, Christmas Island and Reunion, and several Caribbean islands including the Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

As a popular ornamental tree it is highly likely to be further introduced intentionally, and to be spread nationally as planting stock. It is regulated in Queensland, Australia where it is a Declared Class 3 invasive weed (Biosecurity Queensland, 2007), and S. campanulata also received a high score in a Pacific islands weed risk assessment (PIER, 2008). Where present, areas most at risk include riversides, valleys and disturbed humid forest.


Top of page

S. campanulata grows naturally in secondary forests in the high forest zone and in deciduous transition and savannah forests. In Pohnpei it favours wet areas (Englberger, 2009). It may also appear as a pioneer species in the native range, such as it being one of the species that naturally colonizes grasslands in Uganda. Where introduced, it invades both abandoned agricultural land and closed forest, and has become a weed in abandoned pasture sites in Puerto Rico where it may become dominant (Rivera and Aide, 1998), and is a weed in coffee plantations in Cuba (Herrera-Isla et al., 2002), and is highly invasive in Tahiti, French Polynesia in cloud forests up to 1300 m (PIER, 2008).

Habitat List

Top of page
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

Top of page
Reproductive Biology

S. campanulata
flowers and fruits during the dry season in some regions, for 5-6 months a year though, or in others it will flower all year round. It may begin flowering when 3-4 years old in favourable sites. It is an obligate outcrosser (Bittencourt et al., 2003). It also requires pollinators for pollen flow between conspecific trees, and flowers show a combination of bird and bat floral characteristics suggesting that the flowers are in transitional stage from bat- to bird-pollination though birds were the exclusive pollinators, receiving calyx water and nectar as rewards (Rangaiah et al., 2006). Bees also use the floral rewards but they tend to stay on the same tree day-long and effect self-pollination which is not functional in S. campanulata, and also, trigona bees die in the calyx water and/or nectar becoming a solid bee diet to visiting birds. PIER (2008) quote a personal communication from Jean-Yves Meyer, that “The African tulip tree didn't produce fruits (and their wind-dispersed seeds) in La Réunion for a long time...before the endemic Zosterops (a small songbird) started to visit and pollinate the flowers a few years ago. The African tulip tree is now starting to naturalize in La Réunion.” Natural fruit set is very low but it is compensated by large seed crop. The fruit is a capsule and dehisces naturally when mature, releasing small, light and winged seeds into the ambient air, dispersal taking place effectively by wind during dry season (Rangaiah et al., 2006). Also, a large numbers of the seeds are viable, and as the trees flowers year round in Cuba the chances for spread are very high (Diaz-Medina et al., 2004).
Physiology and Phenology

Assessment of seed germination showed that the highest percentages occurred under semi-shade and the lowest under full sunshine, and although an insect species attacks seedlings growing in full shade in Cuba, even under these conditions germination rates were high (Diaz-Medina et al., 2004).
Environmental Requirements

S. campanulata is a tropical tree suited to humid conditions and grows well in areas with an even distribution of rainfall, though it will tolerate a dry season of up to six months. It grows on a wide variety of sites, from poorly to excessively drained, but prefers fertile, deep and well-drained loams.


Top of page
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Top of page
Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
12 -12 0 1200

Air Temperature

Top of page
Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 5
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 26 31
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 28 33
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 12 31


Top of page
ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall10003600mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal

Soil Tolerances

Top of page

Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page

S. campanulata is susceptible to a wide range of insect pests, and heart and butt-rot fungi. In Papua New Guinea, Bito (2007) observed that it was colonized by 54 folivorous species of Lepidoptera, most generalists feeding on more than one native plant family, though the three most abundant species represented 83% of all individuals (Acherontia lachesis, Hyblaea puera complex and Psilogramma menephron) were relatively host specific, and most of the 23 species analysed in detail had a wide geographic distribution, including 13 species spanning the entire 1000-km study transect (Bito, 2007).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

S. campanulata is wind-dispersed, the light winged seeds being able to travel long distances if uninterrupted. This means that local spread can be rapid. However, long-distance introduction has been entirely intentional, as an ornamental tree, and once in a country it will have been planted widely for its aesthetic value.

Pathway Causes

Top of page
CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Forestry Yes ICRAF, 2008
Nursery trade Yes ICRAF, 2008
Ornamental purposes Yes ICRAF, 2008

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Wind Yes ICRAF, 2008

Impact Summary

Top of page
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Economic Impact

Top of page

It is a weed in coffee plantations in <_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on"><_st13a_place _w3a_st="on">Cuba (Herrera-Isla et al., 2002), thus having a negative economic impact. As an important and valuable ornamental, however, it must have a positive impact in terms of sales.

Environmental Impact

Top of page

S. campanulata forms thickets which can shade and out-compete surrounding plants, including trees. It is spreading rapidly on many Pacific islands, where it invades disturbed areas, abandoned agricultural land and native forests (Englberger, 2009).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


Top of page

It can rehabilitate degraded land through its rapid growth. The wood is creamy-white, soft and light; it is suitable for rough carpentry, crates and shuttering. The seeds are used as food in <_st13a_place _w3a_st="on">Africa, and plant extracts are used in African traditional medicine. A poison used to kill animals is extracted from the hard central portion of the fruit. However, its main use is as an ornamental tree. However, it is sometimes not recommended as a street tree as the heavy branches have a tendency to break in wind and can pose a risk to those underneath. It has also limited value as a fodder.

Uses List

Top of page

Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed


  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Revegetation


  • Fuelwood


  • Ornamental


  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

Top of page


  • Crates

Sawn or hewn building timbers

  • Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
  • For light construction

Wood-based materials

  • Wood cement

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page

There are many red or bright-orange-flowered ornamental trees in the tropics and an unaccustomed observer may confuse it at first with species such as Kigelia africana, though the differences become clear with a little study.

Prevention and Control

Top of page

Physical/mechanical control

Young S. campanulata trees can be dug out or hand pulled when the soil is moist (Biosecurity Queensland, 2007), though the ability to sucker from the roots means that all the root mass must be removed or they will regrow. This also means that physicial control is not feasible for controlling older trees.
Biological control

Where S. campanulata is a weed in coffee plantations in Cuba, trees of various sizes were inoculated with Ceratocystis using a mechanical borer impregnated with mycelia and reproductive structures, and the smallest trees died first with fungal incubation periods of 22-33 days, and it was concluded that this method could be used for weed control (Herrera-Isla et al., 2002).
Chemical control

Due to their ability to sucker, stumps of felled trees need to be treated with herbicide, and registered herbicides in Queensland, Australia for controlling S. campanulata are triclopyr + picloram as a stump treatment, and triclopyr + picloram or glyphosate for stem injection (Biosecurity Queensland, 2007). S. campanulata is the subject of an eradication program in Palau incorporating chemical control (see PIER, 2008). For large trees, Englberger (2009) recommends cutting notches 2-2.5 cm deep into the cambium around the stem and spraying undiluted triclopyr or glyphosphate into these notches.


Top of page

Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.

Amihan JB, 1959. A study on the survival of African Tulip (Spathodea campanulata Beauv.) cuttings in relation to their diameters. Philipp. J. For. 15 (1/4), (1962), (135-49 + 4 plates). 9 refs.

Amusan OOG; Adesogan EK; Makinde JM, 1996. Antimalarial active principles of Spathodea campanulata stem bark. Phytotherapy Research, 10(8):692-693; 14 ref.

Amusan OOG; Msonthi JD; Makhubu LP, 1995. Molluscicidal activity of Spathodea campanulata, Andrachne ovalis, Phytolacca dodecandra and Hypoxis rooperi. Fitoterapia, 66(2):113-116.

Auld BA; Nagatalevu-Seniloli M, 2003. African tulip tree in the Fijian islands. FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper, No.120(Add.1):63-65.

Backer CA; Brink RC-Bakhuizen-Van-Den; Jr, 1963. Flora of Java (Spermatophytes only). Vol. 1 : Gymnospermae, families 1-7; Angiospermae, families 8-110. Vol. II: Angiospermae, families 111-190. Vol. III: Angiospermae, families 191-238; addenda et corrigenda; general index to volumes I-III. N. V. P. Noordhoff, Groningen, Netherlands. 1963-1968 pp. xxiii + 648; 72 + 641; 761.

Benthal AP, 1946. The Trees of Calcutta and its neighbourhood. Calcutta, India: Thacker Spink & Co. Ltd. 513 p.

Biosecurity Queensland, 2007. African tulip, Spathodea campanulata. Fact sheet, invasive plants and animals, PP64., Australia: Biosecurity Queensland, 2 pp.

Bito D, 2007. An alien in an archipelago: Spathodea campanulata and the geographic variability of its moth (Lepidoptera) communities in the New Guinea and Bismarck Islands. Journal of Biogeography, 34(5):769-778.

Bittencourt Júnior NS; Gibbs PE; Semir J, 2003. Histological study of post-pollination events in Spathodea campanulata Beauv. (Bignoniaceae), a species with late-acting self-incompatibility. Annals of Botany, 91(7):827-834.

Burkill IH, 1966. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula, 2(2nd edition):2444 pp.

CABI, 2005. Forestry Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CABI.

DAISIE, 2013. Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe. DAISIE (online).

Díaz Medina A; Grillo Ravelo H; Âlvarez Puente RJ; Herrera Isla L; Echemendía Alfonso Y, 2004. Spathodea campanulata Beauv., an invasive species in the Guamuhaya mountains, Cuba. Ecology and distribution. (Spathodea campanulata Beauv., especie invasora en el macizo Guamuhaya. Ecológía y distribución.) In: III Congreso 2004 Sociedad Cubana de Malezología, Memorias, Jardín Botánico Nacional, Ciudad Habana, 28, 29 y 30 de abril del 2004. Wimauma, USA: Asociación Latinoamericana de Malezas, 104-107.

Diniz MA, 1996. Cape Verde flora. Vascular plants. 85. Bignoniaceae. (Flora de Cabo Verde. Plantas Vasculares. 85. Bignoniaceae.) Flora de Cabo Verde, No. 85. Lisboa, Portugal: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, 14 pp.

Eggeling WJ, 1940. The indigenous trees of Uganda. Govt. Printer, Entebbe, Uganda. 1940. pp. xxii + 296.

Englberger K, 2009. Invasive weeds of Pohnpei: A guide for identification and public awareness. Kolonia, Federated States of Micronesia: Conservation Society of Pohnpei, 29 pp.

Govaerts R, 2013. World Checklist of Myrtaceae. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Graveson R, 2012. The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean). The Plants of Saint Lucia (in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean).

Herrera Isla L; Brice L; Grillo Ravelo H, 2002. Methodology for the artificial inoculation with Ceratocystis sp. for the control of Spathodea campanulata Beauv. (Metodología para la inoculación artificial de Ceratocystis sp. para el control de Spathodea campanulata Beauv.) Centro Agrícola, 29(3):56-58.

Holdridge LR, 1942. Trees of Puerto Rico. Volumes I and II. Occ. Pap. U.S. trop For. Exp. Sta. No. 1, 2 pp. 105 + 105.

I3N-Brasil, 2013. Invasive alien species database. Florianópolis - SC, Brazil: Horus Institute for Environmental Conservation and Development.

ICRAF, 2008. Spathodea campanulata. Agroforestree Database. Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre.

Irvine FR, 1961. Woody plants of Ghana with special reference to their uses. London, UK: Oxford University Press.

Kairo M; Ali B; Cheesman O; Haysom K; Murphy S, 2003. Invasive species threats in the Caribbean region. Report to the Nature Conservancy. Curepe, Trinidad and Tobago: CAB International, 132 pp.,%202003.pdf

La-Serna Ramos I; Dominguez Santana MD; Méndez Pérez B; Acebes Ginovés JR; Pérez de Paz PL, 1991. Contribution to an aeropalynological atlas of the district of Santa Cruz-La Laguna (Tenerife: Canary Islands). V - Ornamental flora. (Contribución al atlas aeropalinológico de la comarca Santa Cruz-La Laguna (Tenerife: Islas Canarias). V - Flora ornamental.) Boletim da Sociedade Broteriana, 64:99-134.

McConnell J; Muniappan R, 1991. Introduced ornamental plants that have become weeds on Guam. Micronesia, No. 3, Supplement:47-49.

Meyer JY, 2004. Threat of invasive alien plants to native flora and forest vegetation of Eastern Polynesia. Pacific Science, 58(3):357-375.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2008. Tropicos database. St Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Nazif NM, 2007. Phytochemical and antioxidant activity of Spathodea campanulata P. Beauvois. growing in Egypt. Natural Product Sciences, 13(1):11-16.

PIER, 2008. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. USA: Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry.

PIER, 2013. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii.

Rangaiah K; Rao SP; Raju AJS; 2004, publ. 2006. Bird-pollination and fruiting phenology in Spathodea campanulata Beauv. (Bignoniaceae). Beiträge zur Biologie der Pflanzen, 73(3):395-408.

Rivera LW; Aide TM, 1998. Forest recovery in the karst region of Puerto Rico. Forest Ecology and Management, 108(1/2):63-75.

Rockwood DL; DeValerio JT, 1986. Promising species for woody biomass production in warm-humid environments. Biomass, 11(1):1-17; 14 ref.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008. Australia's Virtual Herbarium. Sydney, Australia: Royal Botanic Gardens. http://avhtas.tmag

Sanchez JM, 2001. Guía de las plantas ornamentals. Guía de las plantas utilizadas con fines ornamnetales en España ([English title not available])., Spain: Ediciones Mundi-Press, 685 pp.

Storer; Dorothy P, 1958. Familiar trees and cultivated plants of Jamaica. Institute of Jamaica, Kingston.

Streets RJ, 1962. Exotic forest trees in the British Commonwealth. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Swarbrick JT; Hart R, 2001. Environmental weeds of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) and their management. Plant Protection Quarterly, 16(2):54-57; 2 ref.

Swarbrick JT; Hart R, 2001. Environmental weeds of Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) and their management. Plant Protection Quarterly, 16:54-57.

USDA-ARS, 2008. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-NRCS, 2008. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Van Steenis CGGJ, 1977. Bignoniaceae. In: Flora Malesiana Vol. 8:185. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague.

White WC, 1951. Flowering trees of the Caribbean. Rinehart and Co. Inc., New York.


Top of page

24/07/13 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

29/02/2008 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map