Brownea grandiceps: Rose of Venezuela

Family: Fabaceae
Common name: Scarlet flame bean, Rose of Venezuela

Rose of Venezuela trees can be recognized very easily by their leaves or their flowers, both having very distinct characteristics. Young leaves are spotted pink or light green hanging in small drooping bunches all over tree. These leaves then turn pinkish-green and then dark green when they mature.

Rose of Venezuela are slow-growing trees reaching a height of about 6 meters. They are densely covered with leaves and bright red bouquets of flowers during blooming season. Leaves are lance-like ending in a pointy tip which is more pronounced and curvy in younger leaves.

Their flowers are very elegant, blooming in shades of pink, deep pink, red and purple with a diameter of about 20 cms. These flowers pointed downwards, each bunch having about 50 individual flowers with very prominent yellow stamens; a very distinct characteristic of Rose of Venezuela trees.

Before blooming, these flowers are bunched together in light red sepal cups with pointy tips encircling the bouquet of flowers. Rose of Venezuela flowers contain an abundance of nectar attracting birds, bees, insects, ants and bats all of which helps in pollination. They produce red fruit pods which turn brown when they mature, with seeds inside.

Rose of Venezuela trees are native to South America where they grow in tropical rainforests. But now they are grown all over the world, primarily as ornamental trees since the wood is not strong enough for carpentry.

Propagation is from seeds, though it is a slow and tedious process.

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