The harbinger of spring in South Florida is, in my opinion, the Tabebuia. There are several types of Tabebuia, this is the one I associate with spring. Sometimes called the Yellow Trumpet Tree, this may remind you of Forsythia up north, which also blooms in late March. Prior to blooming, the tree drops most of its foliage and then produces buds. The Tabebuia is letting you know the show is about to begin and will last a month or so. Bright yellow tubular flowers unfurl on gnarly, corky branches when contrasted with the cerulean blue sky overhead it is an exhilarating sight. Yellow Tabebuias reach 25 -30 feet height and width and are a good small ornamental tree for homeowners. They are sometimes available in multi trunks, which is my favorite form. Drought tolerant once established and mostly evergreen this is a great addition to your sunny landscape.
Tabebuias have an interesting family history. The Yellow version is popular in South Florida as an ornamental tree. It is native to South America where it lives in the Rain Forest. A near relative, the Ipe Tabebuia or Brazilian Walnut (Tabebuia impetiginosa) is the source of Ipe lumber and the national tree of Paraguay. The lumber is a tropical hardwood that is super resistant to the elements and lasts a long, long time outside. The weather resistance of this wood has made it very popular and its harvest is one of the elements causing deforestation in the Amazon. The Ipe Tabebuia is also the source of Pau D’Arco, an herbal medicine used for many ailments by rainforest indigenous people and was once researched as a possible cure for cancer. The Ipe is a pink flowering version that will also grow in South Florida, but is somewhat less cold hardy and taller than the Yellow Tabebuia.