Amherstia nobilis

Common name: Pride of Burma

Other common names: Amherstia

Description

Pride of Burma is a spectacular flowering tree originating in Southeast Asia and as its name suggests, is closely associated with the country of Myanmar (Burma).

It is a small tree, typically 10 to 15 m (30 to 50 ft) tall in cultivation but for reasons unknown never quite manages to reach above 5 m (15 ft) in some areas. The trunk is usually straight, slender and supports a rounded crown of large, gently weeping feathery leaves up to 1 m (3 ft) long.

The leaves are made up of glossy green oval leaflets arranged in pairs along the length and though evergreen, fall from the tree in the dry season in seasonally dry areas. The new leaflets emerge at the end of the dry season pinkish-bronze, soft and limp becoming green and leathery with age. 

Flowering follows flushes of new leaf growth at the transition from the dry to rainy season, but can be encouraged by watering during dry periods. The flowers are large, vivid pink to red and are held in clusters that hang pendulum-like on long flowering stems. The spectacular clusters are said to remind one of orchids.

The fruit are flat seedpods, 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) long, bright red and showy but are seldom produced by the tree. 

Use

Pride of Burma is cultivated as a small flowering tree to add interest and colour to tropical gardens and landscapes.

Climate

Grows and flowers naturally in humid tropical lowland climates, generally in areas with annual lows of 19 to 25 °C, annual highs of 27 to 34 °C, annual rainfall of 1200 to 3000 mm and a dry season of 5 months or less.

Growing

New plants are usually produced using air-layering or circumposing techniques, as seed are not always available.

Performs best on deep, rich free-draining clay and loam soils of a slightly acid to neutral nature, generally with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 and on sites in partial sun.

Problem features

It rarely fruits and when it does the pods are usually few in number with seed that are often infertile, making it unlikely to develop into an invasive species. It is assessed as a low weed risk species for Hawaii by the Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment project (HPWRA).

Where it will grow

References

Books

  • Allen, O. N. & Allen, E. K. 1981, The Leguminosae : a source book of characteristics, uses, and nodulation, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin

  • Barwick, M., et al. 2004, Tropical & subtropical trees : a worldwide encyclopaedic guide, Thames and Hudson, London

  • Holttum, R. E. & Enoch, I. C. 2010, Gardening in the tropics : the definitive guide for gardeners, Marshall Cavendish Editions, Singapore

  • Macmillan, H. F. 1943, Tropical planting and gardening : with special reference to Ceylon, 5th ed, Macmillan Publishing, London

  • Macoboy, Stirling 1982, Trees for flower and fragrance, Lansdowne Press, Sydney

  • National Research Council (Board on Science and Technology for International Development) 1979, Tropical legumes : resources for the future, The National Academies Press, Washington D. C.

  • Redhead, J. F. & Hall, J. B. 1992, Tropical forestry, Longman, London

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