Brownea grandiceps (rose of Venezuela)
Brownea grandiceps (rose of Venezuela) flowerhead (Photo: Michael Benedito)
Brownea grandiceps Jacq.
rose of Venezuela, scarlet flame bean (English); rosa del monte, palo de cruz (Spanish)
Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria, but not considered to be threatened.
Understorey of hot and humid tropical rainforest.
About this species
Rose of Venezuela is a tropical tree belonging to the pea and bean family (Fabaceae/Leguminosae). It is one of 12 species in the genus Brownea, which was named in honour of Dr Patrick Browne (1720–1790), an Irish botanist and physician.
The tree produces magnificent, crimson, almost spherical inflorescences up to 20 cm wide, which hang from the underside of the main branches. It flowers sporadically throughout the year, and individual flowers remain open for only four days. Nevertheless, each inflorescence remains attractive for weeks, as it is composed of many flowers that open in succession.
The magnificent crimson flowers lack any scent, but they secrete copious amounts of sweet nectar attracting hummingbirds, which pollinate the flowers. Nectar is also produced in extrafloral nectaries positioned on the sheath-like bracts that envelop the immature inflorescences.
Rose of Venezuela is cultivated as an ornamental in tropical regions for its showy inflorescences and the striking appearance of the emerging foliage. Dried flowers have been used in infusions to treat dysentery. Bark has been used to reduce bleeding and aid clotting of the blood. Rose of Venezuela has also been used as a contraceptive by indigenous tribes in the Ecuadorian and Colombian Amazon.
Brownea amplibracteata Pittier, Brownea araguensis Pittier, Brownea ariza Lindl. & Paxton, Hermesias grandiceps (Jacq.) Kuntze