Tree-of-Gold (Trumpet Creeper Family)
Tabebuia aurea (Bignoniaceae)
Origin: South America
Tabebuia aurea, the sister of a recent plant-of-the-week, Tabebuia impetiginosa, is now in the spotlight around town. Like its sibling, the Tree-of-Gold loses all of its leaves before putting on a show. There is some genetic variance within the species, producing two generally accepted forms, one with green leaves and another with silver leaves. The silver-leaved form is more sought after and gives the tree another, somewhat misleading name; the Silver Trumpet Tree. The flowers of both forms are a brilliant yellow and stand out like a shining sun against our blue Floridian skies. Also like its sibling, Tabebuia aurea is a very popular choice as a street tree here in town. Early spring in Sarasota is usually heralded with a two week long explosion of gold flowers everywhere.
Mature specimens are not too tall; rather, the trees tend to grow into an asymmetrical, leaning form. Their bark is thick, gray, and corky, full of interesting nooks and crannies, which makes them a fantastic host for epiphytic plants. Selby Gardens’ Tree-of-Gold, just west of the Tropical Fruit Garden, is mounted with Cattleya and Dendrobium orchids, some of which are also currently blooming. Many of the street trees around town are adorned with native bromeliads.
The trees tend to put out a second, less intense bloom near the end of the summer. Seeds germinate at a high rate, as our rainy season is in full swing when the long pods split open. The trees can become somewhat weedy, but they are still a beautiful and popular choice for the tropical home landscape.