Autumn is usually considered a time of falling leaves, not blooming trees; however, in warm places like Sarasota, several cultivated tree species come into spectacular bloom only in October and November. Among the showiest of these is Colville’s Glory (Colvillea racemosa), a native of the dry forests of western Madagascar. This spectacular tree is a member of the Fabaceae, the family of legumes to which common plants like peas, beans, peanuts, acacia trees, and clover belong. Colvillea racemosa is a fast-growing tropical tree that can reach 30 to 50 feet in height, with dark green, feathery leaves resembling those of its more cosmopolitan cousin, the late spring-blooming Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia). Colvillea also has showy, copper-colored bark, but its crowning glory are the foot-long, dense clusters of bright reddish-orange flowers bearing long, yellow-orange stamens that appear late in October. In its native Madagascar, the flowers of Colvillea are pollinated by sunbirds, though honeybees also seem to love them here at Selby. This tree was first discovered by the Bohemian botanist Wenceslas Bojer in 1824, who gathered seed from a single tree in Madagascar and raised plants at Mauritius before sending them on to Europe. He officially described Colvillea racemosa in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in 1834 as a monotypic genus named to honor Sir Charles Colville, a Scottish officer who served under Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars and later became Governor of Mauritius. It was Colville who had funded Bojer on the trips of discovery to Madagascar where he earlier found and named dozens of new species, including the Royal Poinciana. Come see our magnificent Colvillea racemosa in full spectacular bloom beside the gazebo on the Great Lawn this week at Selby Gardens!