En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 23, 2012

From: Murray, KY
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Identification of a tree in Florida with bell-shaped red flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton


A friend in Florida has asked about identification of a tree with a flower none of us have ever seen. It starts with a green pod, then flowers into, what looks to me like a Chinese lantern, or bell. It is not a Chinese Lantern Tree. The flower is mostly red with yellow edging and in creases. The flower petals are in a spiral. the stamen hangs below the edge of the flower and really does look like a bell clapper. Thank you for any help you might provide. (I was unable to save the pic as a JPEG)


Our focus and expertise at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are with plants native to North America.  Tropical and semi-tropical Florida is host to many introduced ornamental plants and I suspect the tree you are describing is one of them.  I did, however, search our Native Plant Database to see if I could find any match for the tree you describe.  You could do the same to see if you see any possibilities.   I did a COMBINATION SEARCH and chose "Florida" from the Select State or Province option, "Tree" from Habit (general appearance) and "Red", "Orange" and "Yellow" from Bloom Characteristics-Bloom Color.   I also did a search substituting "Shrub" for "Tree" in the search.  The only tree that I found that looked similar to your description was Rhododendron austrinum (Orange azalea).

Below are some possibilities for non-native trees with orange/red flowers that grow in Florida:

Cordia sebestena (Geiger tree)

Hibiscus tiliaceus (Sea hibiscus)

There are many species and cultivars of both Brugmansia and Datura that are shaped like the flowers in your description and that come in many different colors.  You can see some of them at Brugmansia Growers International and at DavesGarden.com.

One possibility is Brugmansia suaveolens (Angel trumpet) which does grow in Florida and comes in several colors.

If none of the above matches the tree that you have seen, you can visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants, both native or non-native, for identification.


From the Image Gallery

Orange azalea
Rhododendron austrinum

Orange azalea
Rhododendron austrinum

Orange azalea
Rhododendron austrinum

More Non-Natives Questions

Seeds for invasive, non-native Erodium cicutarium
February 05, 2008 - I rec'd the following e-mail from a friend in he Chicago area. I looked for about an hour and couldn't find a place to get weed seeds. She thinks we are in the desert here and apparently are so rura...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for alternatives for Crape Myrtle in Washington, DC.
July 15, 2011 - What can you recommend as native alternatives to the shorter (garden-sized) crape myrtle cultivars?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Purple Hyacinth from Sylvania OH
May 21, 2012 - I am wondering if I plant a Purple Hyacinth Bean vine seed under a tree and allow it to grow up the tree trunk, will it kill the tree?
view the full question and answer

Red berry that changes the taste of other foods
January 15, 2013 - Hi, your site is fantastic. I heard from a friend that he tried a red berry in Florida which when eaten change the taste of other foods eaten afterwards. He ate a lemon after trying that berry and th...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)
August 30, 2005 - I am moving into a new home and have been told that the two plants in my front yard are called Hearts of Sharon. I need to know how to care for them and when and how to prune them so that they dont gr...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center