By the time this week’s post loads to the “Internets”, my wife and I will be on a plane heading to Thailand to celebrate our ten-year wedding anniversary. All that last-minute rushing around in preparation limited my interest in even getting a post out. However, a quick mountain bike ride unexpectedly opened the door for a quick post. A few days prior to departure I wanted to decompress, so I decided to go out for a 20-mile mountain bike ride. Not wanting to drive to a location to ride, I figured I would just leave from the house and head to a great local area in Carlsbad. So off I headed to Lake Calavera. While not large, it is a hidden gem and has a good trail network.
Halfway through my ride I spotted something off into the distance. This was my view looking out east across Lake Calavera. Is there anything that stands out in the photo?
Was it that splotch of pink? During the ride it was for me and it caused me to get off my bike and take that photo with my iPhone. I knew what it was right away, so of course I had to make a detour and ride over to it. Something that big, pink and floriferous could only mean one thing: it was a Handroanthus impetiginosus.
Handroanthus impetiginosus is a newer name change from the old Tababuia impetiginosus that most nurseries still use to label the tree. For me personally, Handroanthus is one of my favorite genus of flowering trees that can be grown in our Mediterranean climate. I currently have four different ones planted in my garden. A large flowering clone of Handroanthus chrysotricha, Tabebuia ‘Kampong Pink’ (most likely a Handroanthus as well), a white flowering Handroanthus impetiginosus, plus an unknown Ipê collected from the wild in Brazil. The last flowered in my garden and blooms with a small, light pink flower.
Handroanthus impetiginosus has quite a bit of variability amongst the many trees found growing in Southern California. Some are much less floriferous, others flower while still holding leaves (never as showy when they do this), and some just do not flower with such bold color. The tree pictured above shows just about as perfect a specimen as you will find while in bloom. To me it kind of looks like the end of a big, pink Q-tip.
While heading home from the ride I also spotted these two street plantings. While not as bold in color, the one on the right is loaded with so many flowers that it just doesn’t seem possible.
Handroanthus impetiginosus is not a fast growing tree here. It is also not the kind of tree that will give instant gratification purchased right out of a nursery. It demands time. Just guessing, but the first one shown in this post is most likely twenty or more years old. So you really need to be patient. Given time it might even attract a mountain biker from a great distance like the tree above.