Few trees are as showy as the Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia). Native to Madagascar, the Poinciana is a beautiful shade tree that was introduced to Florida decades ago. It’s a nice enough tree throughout the year, but as the rainy season kicks into full gear this month, the Poinciana – also known as the “Flamboyant Tree”, bursts with showy orange blossoms and gives color to a generally green landscape here in South Florida.
Cruising around the island of Everglades City, this particular tree was unanimously voted the most beautiful Poinciana around. The flaming-red spoon-shaped blooms will last for a few weeks into summer. The downside is it has a shallow root system that spreads out wide and wandering, preventing natives from growing and upending sidewalks and roughing up building foundations.
In addition to the flowery fireworks this month we also have many of the local residents putting on a spectacular air show. Purple Martins (Progne subis) ducked in and out of their condo and gourd-shaped homes, taking to the air to feast on unsuspecting insects or bringing in nesting material for their clutch of all white eggs.
The largest member of the Swallow family, the Purple Martins spend the winter in South America before returning to North America for the breeding season. Scouts arrive in January in south Florida and conclude nesting later in the month before heading south.
White apparently is the most attractive color to paint a Purple Martin house. I would assume they don’t mind Orange either.