Delonix decaryi (fengoky)
Delonix decaryi, a tree with a cigar-shaped trunk, is found in the dry spiny forest of Madagascar, and sometimes planted as a living fence.
Delonix decaryi (R. Vig.) Capuron
Near Threatened (NT) according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Malagasy spiny forest.
Construction, shade-tree, living fence.
About this species
A member of the pea and bean family (Leguminosae), Delonix decaryi is a white-flowered tree which grows in the threatened, dry spiny forest habitat of Madagascar.
Geography and distribution
Found only in the dry spiny forest of south and south-western Madagascar, where it is confined almost entirely to the coastal forest margins.
Overview: Delonix decaryi is a tree measuring 3-10 m tall, with a swollen cigar-shaped trunk with flaking bark.
Leaves: The leaves are bipinnate (having leaflets which are themselves divided into leaflets).
Flowers: The flowers are large (7-8 cm), with white petals; the upper petal having a large yellow blotch. The stamens (male parts) and style (female part) are pink or red.
Fruits: The pods are long and slender and measure about 35 x 3.5 cm.
D. decaryi is thought to be moth-pollinated. Its white petals open at night and have red, protruding stamens, and the upper petal bears a narrowly tubular, nectar-secreting claw.
Threats and conservation
Delonix decaryi is rated as Near Threatened because its native habitat is severely threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, charcoal production, grazing by domestic cattle and goats, and uncontrolled bush fires.
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has collected seeds of D. decaryi and is storing them ex situ in the Kew seed bank in the UK, as well as in Madagascar.
Cuttings of the branches are often planted in villages or around tombs, to form a ‘living fence’. Occasionally the trunks are used to make canoes or coffins. The resin is used as a glue and the unripe seeds are reported to be edible.
This species at Kew
Dried and spirit-preserved specimens of Delonix decaryi are held in the behind-the-scenes Herbarium at Kew, where they are made available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details, including an image, of some of these specimens can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.
Du Puy, D.J., Labat, J-N., Rabevohitra, R., Villiers, J-F., Bosser, J. & Moat, J. (2002). The Leguminosae of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Du Puy, D.J., Phillipson, P. & Rabevohitra, R. (1995). The genus Delonix (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae: Caesalpinieae) in Madagascar. Kew Bull. 50: 445-475.
Kew Science Editor: Malin Rivers
Copyediting: Emma Tredwell
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