Amherstia nobilis

Author: Wallich

Morphological description (see also description of Genus Amherstia )
Tree up to 12(-20) m high. (nobilis Amherstia flush 139501)Stipules foliaceous, lanceolate, 2-4 cm long, caducous.

Leaves paripinnate, (4-)6-8-jugate, 30-60 cm long; new leaves pendent, developing in tassels, pinkish coppery, then bronze. Leaflets opposite or subopposite, oblong-lanceolate or oblong, (7-)14-34 by (4-)5.5-8.5 cm; petiolules 7.5-10 mm.

Inflorescences (nobilis Amherstia infl 139502; nobilis Amherstia infl 431664) 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.

Flowers: (nobilis Amherstia fl 431623) Hypanthium red, 3.5-4.5 cm long. Calyx lobes 4, petaloid, imbricate, narrow-oblong or narrow-lanceolate, 4.75-5.75 by 1-2.25 cm, often reflexed, curved or coiled, rarely straight at anthesis. 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 (diadelphous) or 9 (monodelphous), 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. Pistil: free part of stipe 7-10 mm; ovary falcate, compressed, 12-20 mm long, densely hairy, 4-6-ovuled; style filiform, 35-30 mm; stigma small, capitellate.

Pods woody, oblong, or scimitar-like, flattened, dehiscent, 11-20 by 4-5 cm, 4-6-seeded (nobilis Amherstia pod 431665).

Seeds transversely ovate-orbicular, much compressed, 1.75-2.5 by 2-2.75 cm, exarillate, exalbuminous.

Native of Burma. Introduced and culbvated in Malesia: Malay Peninsula, Java, and Papua New Guinea.

In Burma growing in lowland forest.

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 Hooker (1849: t. 4453); Hoola van Nooten ( 1863-64: t. 2); and Burkill (1935: 132).

Corner (1952: 387) mentioned that the tree of Amberstia 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."