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Tecoma stans (L.) Juss. ex Kunth 1818
pronounced: tek-OH-muh stanz
(Bignoniaceae — the jacaranda family)
common names: Yellow Trumpet Bush, Yellow Bells
This class 3 weed under Queensland legislation is a densely-branched flowering perennial shrub. It occurs in desert shrublands and dry forests in America in the region from Texas and Arizona southward to Argentina. It has become established in many parts of the Pacific, and is the official flower of the United States Virgin Islands, and the national flower of the Bahamas.
It has bright green opposite leaves, pinnately compound with 1–9 (usually 3–7) lanceolate leaflets. These leaflets are 5–8 cm long and have sharply toothed edges. They are borne on very short petioles and are slightly hairy on the undersides along the midrib and in the vein axils. The smooth, squarish twigs are green, turning tan or reddish tan as they age. The bark on the main trunk is light brown, and becomes corky with age.
The flowers, up to about 5 cm long, are yellow and trumpet-shaped. They hang in showy clusters at the branch tips and forks, bending the twigs into arches with their weight. There are two folds along the bottom of the flower’s throat and several delicate rust-red lines decorating the interior. The flowers appear in flushes throughout the growing season.
The flowers are followed by 10–20 cm long string-bean-like pods that hang in vertical clusters. These turn brown and split open to release large numbers of flat oblong seeds with transparent wings on each end.
In many parts of the world this attractive plant is cultivated as an ornamental. It is drought-tolerant, and while in cooler climates it will lose its leaves, as long as there are not heavy frosts it will usually recover in spring. The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
The plant is a desirable species when grazed by livestock. It readily colonizes disturbed, rocky, sandy, and cleared land, and can become an invasive species. It has become a serious problem in French Polynesia, where it forms dense stands that inhibit regeneration of other plant species. Although it is quite common on Magnetic Island, I have not seen rampant growth areas. Once it becomes firmly established, it is difficult to eradicate. Its sale and supply are prohibited in Queensland.
The leaves of the plant contain bioactive compounds, especially monoterpenes†. They are used for a variety of purposes in herbal medicine, mainly for treating diabetes and digestive problems.
This is a food plant for the caterpillars of the Lantana Flower-cluster Moth Epinotia lantana.
Tecoma stans is the official floral emblem of the US Virgin Islands.
† chemicals found in citrus fruits, eggplant, green vegetables, tomatoes and yams, acting as an antioxidants, helping to protect the immune system
Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2008
Page last updated 25th February 2017