The Guayacan Tree


Since the dawn of time, Panama has been related to nature.  For example, Panama was the word used by the natives to say that there was an abundance of butterflies, gathering of fishes or the name of a tree called Panama.  The jungles of Bocas del Toro and Darien are still intact.  Wildlife, botanical plants and trees are so exotic in these areas, that many species have not yet been discovered by modern scientists.

A tree that stands out in Panama and other Latin American countries is the Guayacan tree due to its stunning beauty.   The botanical name is Tabebuia guayacan (Bignoniaceae). You can find it around Panama City, specially in the neighborhood of Betania.

The Guayacan tree and flower is symbolic in Latin America.  For example;  Tabebuia chrysotricha is the national flower of Brazil.  Tabebuia rosea is the national tree of El Salvador and the  Tabebuia chrysantha is the national tree of Venezuela.  As a matter of fact, on May 29, 1948, Tabebuia chrysantha was declared the national tree of Venezuela due to its extraordinary beauty. Its deep yellow resembles the Venezuelan flag.  It is one of about 100 species of Tabebuia.

The Guayacan tree is widely used as an ornamental tree in the tropics in landscaping gardens, public squares, and boulevards due to its impressive and colorful flowering. Many flowers appear on still leafless stems at the end of the dry season, making the floral display more conspicuous. They are useful as honey plants for bees, and are popular with certain hummingbirds.

Tabebuia guayacan usually produces big yellow flowers in March or April, with the first rains at the end of the dry season. It is a notable flowering tree. The flowers are 1 to 4 inches wide and are produced in dense clusters. Corolla colors vary between species ranging from white, light pink, yellow, lavender, magenta, or red.

During the dry season, Guayacan sheds its leaves, turning rapidly green again at the start of the rainy season. The beautiful yellow, trumpet-like flowers generally open up around February/March, making the tree one of the most beautiful in the jungle.   The tree normally bears fruit at the end of March. Approximately 10-23 inches long, green and a bit uneven, the fruit resemble bean pods. Inside the fruit, the seeds have small wings.

They shed their leaves in January, and then bloom with intensity and yellow brilliance demonstrating the magic of Mother Nature from February to April. Sadly the show is a brief one, between 3 to 5 days.  As the flowers fall to the ground, they form a beautiful carpet that lasts much longer.

The Guayacan is not only beautiful but also offers relief for several health problems. Tea made from the flowers treats urine and kidney trouble. The flower tea has also been used to treat tuberculosis in Latin America.

Its wood is considered among the strongest and finest in the world. Proof of this are the timber frames  in the ruins of the Panama Cathedral, which are still strong after more than 400 years.

Below are several photographs of two Guayacan trees which I found within the premises of Banco General in the neighborhood of Hato Pintado.  They looked majestic.

Photograph of a blooming Guayacan tree in the backyard of Banco General in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
This Guayacan tree glows beside the rest of the ordinary green trees in Hato Pintado. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Notice the flowers at the bottom of three that look like a yellow carpet. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
This is the Guayacan tree in full bloom loaded with bright yellow flowers. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
A closer look at the golden flowers of this gorgeous Guayacan tree. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Beauty is eloquently defined in this amazing Guayacan tree in Hato Pintado. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The Spanish Conquistadores didn’t find much gold in Panama, but who needs gold when we have trees like these.  Do you agree?  Good Day.

11 thoughts on “The Guayacan Tree”

  1. Wonderful. I saw these dotting the countryside west of Panama City, then, I saw one beauty in the middle of the city near the gothic church on via Espana. Because of rain, I was too late to photograph it, but then, miraculously, there was a second bloom. A stunning tree!

  2. Love that tree. Seems like one that is in bloom here in south Florida right now that plays havoc with my nasal passages. I don’t think they’re the same thing since the bark of your tree is smooth where the ones here are rough.

    There was another yellow blooming tree I found when I was in Chitre last year but no one could identify it. I’m sending you an email of some of my favorite yellow trees.

    1. Hi Richard:

      Received your e-mail and replied it immediately. There are many variations of Guayacanes as I explained in my post today. The one in South Florida could be one of the 100 species of Tabebuia. Sorry about the problems with your nasal passages.

      Best Regards,

      Omar.-

  3. There is at least one species of Tabebuia/Guayacan that blooms every year here in St Petersburg with a grand flourish, just before the Jacaranda blooms. It is not usually available for sale now–don’t know why the growers don’t encourage its use; it is very drought-tolerant and suited for us here for that reason. I would someday love to be in South America in the spring to see them all in bloom. In the Caribbean there is a pink flowered tree, called there, Immortelle, that makes a grand show on the hillsides. The beauty of the natural world is quite amazing. Thanks for this educational article !

  4. Hello,
    I would like to plant about 10 guayacanes. How far apart should I space them?
    thanks for any information. also, could you send me the info. via email as well.
    thanks again. (I live in Panama)
    richard

  5. I found your site by searching “Does a maquilishuat tree have a tap root?”

    Could you possibly tell me if the Guayacan trees have a single tap root or a widespread root system? We live in El Salvador and have a Tabebuia rosea in the garden. It is near the foso septico, and we are not sure the roots will not damage the walls of it.

    Thank you for whatever info you can provide.

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