The Bignoniaceae are mostly tropical trees or shrubs comprising about 100 genera and 800 species that usually boast large, showy flowers and are often lianous. The leaves are nearly always opposite or whorled and are most commonly pinnately compound or more than once compound; stipules are absent. The flowers are bisexual and zygomorphic. The synsepalous calyx usually has 5 teeth or lobes. The sympetalous corolla usually has 5 teeth or lobes and is sometimes 2-lipped. The androecium consists most commonly of 4 didynamous stamens that are attached to the corolla tube or epigynous zone, alternate with the lobes. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 2 carpels, a single style, and a superior ovary with typically 2 locules, each bearing numerous axile ovules. An annular or cupular nectary disk is usually found around the base of the ovary. The fruit is usually capsular with winged seeds, or sometimes indehiscent with wingless seeds.

Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.

Catalpa speciosa.
Crescentia cujete, Bignoniaceae, calabash tree. Small tree from tropical America with tufted leaves 2-6 inches long, and irregularly bell-shaped, two-inch-long, yellowish flowers sometimes veined with purple. The fruit may be up to a foot in diameter, and while initially heavy with wet pulp and seeds, dries hard, remains smooth, and becomes quite light. These may be cut and used as receptacles or may be used intact as hula rattles.  The fruits can be shaped during growth by tying string around them when young. The flowers open in the evening and are bat-pollinated where native.  The first two flowers were photographed just after opening at late dusk while the third was photographed at mid-day.  Location: Makai side of Campus Center.
Jacaranda mimosifolia.  Note the bipinnately compound leaves.
Kigelia africana, Bignoniaceae, sausage tree. Notice the large, showy flowers, the 5-lobed calyx and corolla, and the didynamous stamens. The corollas are leathery, which resists shredding by the clawed wings of bats that visit and pollinate this species in its native habitat in tropical west Africa. The flowers and the large, sausage-like indehiscent fruits that develop from them hang on long stems below and away from the limbs of the tree. Although not edible, the fruits are used in Africa as an external medication.
Macfadyena unguis-cati, cat's claw vine, University of Hawaii Campus, Manoa, Mar. 2004.
Pandorea jasminoides,  bower vine, bower of beauty, native to northeastern New South Wales, Australia.
Podranea ricasoliana, pink trumpet vine, Port John's creeper, native to South Africa.
Pyrostegia venusta, flame vine. This species has large zygomorphic flowers and pinnately compound leaves typical of the family.
spa_cam_seeds.jpg (9477 bytes)
Spathodea campanulata, African tulip tree. Large tree from tropical Africa with large flowers and pinnately compound, opposite leaves that are prevalent in the family.  Winged seeds like those in the third photo also commonly occur in species of the family that have dehiscent fruit.
Tabebuia aurea, Caribbean trumpet tree.
Tabebuia berteroi, Hispaniolan rosy trumpet tree.
Tabebuia donnell-smithii, prima vera, gold tree. Large tree from Mexico and Central America, with striking display of yellow tubular flowers that replace the leaves during the flowering season. The wood is used for veneering and cabinet work.
Tabebuia heterophylla, pink tecoma. This very common street tree has large trumpet-shaped flowers and palmately compound leaves.
Tabebuia impetiginosa, Bignoniaceae, pau d'arco.
Tabebuia rosea, pink tecoma, rosy trumpet tree.
Tecoma stans, yellow elder, tropical American shrub.
Tecomanthe dendrophila. This liana with opposite, pinnate leaves has very showy flowers.
Tecomeria capensis, Cape honeysuckle. Notice the didynamous stamens, 2-lipped corollas and opposite, pinnate leaves in this viny species.

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