Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trumpet trees herald spring


The yellow flowers of late winter are in bloom across the county with eye-catching beauty that reinforces the appreciation for our subtropical climate.     What are these ornamental trees that explode with canary-yellow blossoms at this time?  They are one or more species of Tabebuia with names such as the Golden Trumpet tree, the Silver Trumpet tree, and the Yellow Trumpet tree.  All of these trees are small to medium in height and are putting on quite a show right now!

Tabebuia are flowering trees native to tropical America and are valued landscape ornamentals seen throughout South and Central Florida.  The one known as the Silver Trumpet tree is a bit cold tender and better adapted to the warmer parts (and microclimates) of Charlotte County and southward.  The Golden Trumpet tree and the Yellow Trumpet tree are better able to tolerate low winter temperatures here and further north.  The huge blossoms of each type are over three-inches long and about one-inch wide.  These flowers are funnel-like in shape and are arranged in clusters for maximum showiness.  Tabebuia trees are deciduous to semi-deciduous trees in nature making the flower show a pleasant surprise on an otherwise bare woody plant.  The yellow flowers are followed by long seed pods which also have some ornamental interest.  The Silver Trumpet tree has a natural asymmetrical trunk and light-colored, deeply furrowed bark adding to its attractive appearance.  The other two types are more open in growth and are upright in stature.  The leaves on all of these trees are palmate in shape with multiple leaflets. 

Locate trumpet trees in a full sun to part-shade area with well-drained, but moderately moist soil.  All the yellow Tabebuia tend to develop brittle wood as they age.  As such, wind damage can be an issue.  Proper pruning may help train a tree to be more wind-resistant over its lifetime.  Use Tabebuia as a specimen tree in a lawn area where it will best be seen and admired in season. 

Remember the Yellow Trumpet trees as you plan out your landscape – they are Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ recommended plants and real show-offs!  For more information on flowering ornamental trees suitable for our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Don't forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area.  Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times - http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.

Resources:
Brown, S. H. (2015) Three Yellow Tabebuia Trees of South and Central Florida.  The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS – Lee County.
Gilman, E. F. & Watson, D. G. (2014) Tabebuia chrysotricha: Golden Trumpet Tree.  The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS. 
Gilman, E. F. & Watson, D. G. (2014) Tabebuia caraiba: Trumpet Tree.  The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS.

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2010) The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS.  

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