Amherstia nobilis

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Amherstia nobilis


Tree up to 12(-20) m high. Leaves paripinnate, (4-)6-8-jugate, 30-60 cm long; new leaves pendent, developing in tassels, pinkish coppery, then bronze. Stipules foliaceous, lanceolate, 2-4 cm long, caducous. Inflorescences terminal, simple, pendulous, racemose, 50-80 cm long, 20-26-flowered; peduncles 12-30 cm; bracts caducous; bracteoles 2, large, enclosing flower bud, opposite, valvate or slightly imbricate, persistent, lanceolate or oblong, (4.5-)8-9 by (1.5-) 3-3.75 cm; pedicels red, 6-12 cm. Petals 5, unequal, red, blotched with a large yellow spot and a reddish violet band: 1 uppermost, obcordate, 5.5-7 by 5-5.5 cm; 2 lateral, cuneiform, 5.5-7 by 1.75-2.25 cm; 2 lowermost, minute, rudimentary, subulate, 6-7 mm long. Stamens unequal, fertile, 10 (didelphous) or 9 (mono-delphous), alternately long and short; 9 filaments united at the lower half into a sheath or slightly tube-like, united parts 2.5-3 cm long; free parts 3.5-5.5 cm (long ones) and c. 0.5 cm (short ones); anthers oblong, versatile, alternately large (or longer) and smaller (or shorter), 4-11 mm long. Seeds transversely ovate-orbicular, much compressed, 1.75-2.5 by 2-2.75 cm, exarillate, exalbuminous.


Asia-Tropical: Jawa (Jawa present); Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia present), Burma, Papua New Guinea present
Native of Burma. Introduced and cultivated in Malesia: Malay Peninsula, Java, and Papua New Guinea.


It is cultivated as an ornamental especially for the large, vermillion-coloured flowers. In Burma the magnificent flowers have been collected and carried daily as offerings to the images of Buddha. See

Corner (1950) mentioned that the tree of Amherstia is thought by some to be the loveliest in the world. He also stated: "Nothing appears to be known of the evolution or mechanism of the strange flowers; or why the species should be restricted to Burma."


Miq. 1855 – In: Fl. Ind. Bat. p 87
Verdc. 1979: p. 106. – In: Manual New Guinea Leg., Lae Bot. Bull. f. 24
Koord. & Valeton 1894 – In: Bijdr. Booms. Java. p 272
Corner 1952 – In: Wayside Trees, ed. 2. p 378
Mabb. 1982 – In: Taxon. p 67
Rudd 1991 – In: Fl. Ceylon. 101.
Wall 1829: p. 1. – In: Pl. As. Rar. t. 1 & 2
Corner 1952 – In: Wayside Trees, ed. 2. , t. 78
K. & S.S. Larsen 1984 – In: Fl. Thailand. p 93
Wall 1829: List. no. 596
Backer & Bakh.f 1964 – In: Fl. Java. p 530