But it’s so pretty….

Did you know?

Landscapes in San Diego are awash in pink right now and it has nothing to do with breast cancer awareness. It’s from a tree. Looks like this:

Pink trumpet tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That picture was taken yesterday as I was traipsing around the new sections of the expanded and expanding Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

I have been enamored of the tree for several years but it doesn’t seem to be stocked by the plant nurseries, and I never could find out the name of the tree….

….until yesterday.

The tree was everywhere, and everywhere I saw one, I would stop to see if there was a nameplate nearby. Finally, in an odd location in Balboa Park, I found a dying tree with a few flowers on it, and a nameplate at the base.

The nameplate reads Pink Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia impetiginosa).

Pink trumpet tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

However, with the advent of genome tracing and such, apparently this tree has been reassigned to the Hydroanthus genus and is now considered to be Hydroanthus impetiginosus. It’s still a pink trumpet tree, though!

The pink trumpet tree ranges from northern Mexico (which could include southern California!) south to the northern part of Argentina. It is believed to be indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago.

Unfortunately, the pink trumpet tree is a major cause of deforestation in the Amazon. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s wood is popular for flooring and decking but it does not grow in concentrated stands, tending to be scattered throughout the forest. Thus, in order to get to individual trees, logging roads have to be built long distances through prime rain forest. Once the pink trumpet tree is harvested, the logging roads make great roads for others to come in and clear the forest for agricultural uses. Computer modeling predicts that the pink trumpet tree is headed for extinction in the wild.

Other facts about the pink trumpet tree:

► It is the national tree of Paraguay.

► The inner bark is dried, shredded, and boiled to create a bitter herbal tea known as lapacho. The tea eases coughing for those with a cold or the flue, as well as “smoker’s cough.”

► Recent research indicates that the main active ingredient in lapacho is toxic enough to kill fetuses in pregnant rats in doses of 100 mg/kg of body weight.

Lapacho induces clastogenic genetic damage in rats, meaning that it causes chromosome sections to be deleted, added to, or re-arranged, leading to mutageneis, carcinogenesis, and cancer. Known clastogens which you might recognize by name include benzene and arsenic.

But it’s so pretty….

Pink trumpet tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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12 thoughts on “But it’s so pretty….

  1. acflory

    Wow…but it’s only the boiled bark or whatever that causes the mutations, right? i.e. they wouldn’t happen just from walking on floorboards made of the trumpet tree?

    And yes, very pretty indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. acflory

        lol – good to know, Russel. We have oleander bushes here that are also pretty but are poisonous to the touch and produce toxic smoke if burned. I’m always a little wary of plants that bite back!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I’m quite familiar with the oleander issues. My wise old grandmother’s house was ringed by oleanders both sides and rear. Guess who had to prune them after a freeze or when they got too scraggly. Yep. Yours truly. I do think, though, that having my immune system exposed to all that interesting stuff when I was young is why I’m rarely sick as an adult. I don’t think trying to kill 100% of the germs and put the little ones in a bubble so they are never sick is good for them.


  2. babso2you

    What a beautiful tree! I have seen this one before! Thank you for identifying it for me…and for sharing the photos! Splendid! Hugs to you and Jim! Tummy scratches to Zoey the Cool Cat!

    Liked by 1 person


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