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Gulmohur

The orange, fuchsia and warm mustard décor of this room, reflected in the hand-painted flowers on the traditional Rajasthani bed and wardrobe, is inspired by the flowering Gulmohur trees of the region. The room has its own private sun terrace that overlooks a garden, trees, gently rolling fields and the reflexology pool.

A reasonably tall tree with widely spreading branches and tender fern-like leaves that grow in dense green clusters, it is the  Gulmohur’s flamboyant display of flowers that gives its name.

The flowers are large, with four spreading scarlet or orange-red petals up to 8 cm long, and a fifth upright petal called the standard, which is slightly larger and spotted with yellow and white. Seed pods are dark brown and can be up to 60 cm long and 5 cm wide; the individual seeds, however, are small, weighing around 0.4 g on average. The compound leaves have a feathery appearance and are a characteristic light, bright green. They are doubly pinnate: Each leaf is 30–50 cm long and has 20 to 40 pairs of primary leaflets or pinnae on it, and each of these is further divided into 10-20 pairs of secondary leaflets or pinnules.

‘Gul’ means flower in Persian and Hindi, and ‘Mohr’ means coin or stamp.  ‘Mor’ also means peacock; the flower thus being likened to the physical appearance and beauty of that brilliant bird.  Because of the flame colour that dominates, the Gulmohur is also called Flame Of The Forest or Flame Tree.  In the eastern Indian states of Assam, Orissa and Bengal, as also in Bangladesh the flower is called Krishnachura (Crown of Krishna).  In Vietnamese it is known as Phượng vĩ ( “Phoenix’s Tail), and in Khmer the tree and flower are known collectively as “Peacock”.

The Gulmohur is valued mainly for its ornamental character, its other virtues being that it is a shade giving tree.  Because it is a legume, the tree has nitrogen-fixating and soil-improving properties.  Although it grows best under tropical conditions, it also grows and survives easily in dry conditions.

Its botanical name is Delonix regia.  Delonix regia is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae. It is noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers for which in English it is given the name Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant.  This species was previously placed in the genus Poinciana, named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, the 17th century governor of Saint Christophe (Saint Kitts) of which it is the national flower.

The Poinciana is very widely grown in the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, the Canary Islands, Mexico, Cyprus, Malta,Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. It also grows throughout southern Brazil.

 

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