Creamy Peacock Flower tree

Scientific name : Delonix elata. Family: Fabaceae Also known as: Muange (Kamba), Olderkesi (Maasai), Sukella (Gabra and Boran), Mwarange (Tharaka), Labi (Somali).

When you travel to the Coast from Nairobi, look out for the spectacular Creamy Peacock Flower tree. There are many of them growing by the side of the road near Voi, and in Tsavo National Park. This tree grows in Acacia Commiphora bushland across Africa, North as far as Egypt and East all the way to India. Its scientifc name ‘elata’ means tall. The ‘Useful Trees and Shrubs of Kenya’ book describes it as one of the largest and most useful trees in the arid lands.

The Creamy Peacock Flower tree’s leaves can be cooked as vegetables, and its twigs come in handy as toothbrushes. The twigs, bark and roots are all used for medicine. The tree’s wood is used to make camel bells, tool handles and spoons.

The Creamy Peacock Flower tree is related to the equally beautiful ‘flame tree’ ‘Delonix regia’, which is common on the Kenyan coast.

How to recognise this tree

The leaves are bi-pinnate. The bark is pale white/silver and often flaky. Its fruit is in reddish-brown pods.

The flowers have four petals and long reddish stamens. As they age they fade to yellow.