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Flamboyant (Delonix regia)

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Description
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Common names 

Flamboyant, royal poinciana, flame tree, fire tree, flame of the forests, flame tree, gold mohar, peacock flower, poinciana, red tree, royal gulmohur; royal peacock [English]; Flamboyant [French]; Feuerbaum, Flammenbaum [German]; flamboiã, flamboaiã,acácia-rubra, uaruna [Portuguese]; acacia roja, acacia rubra, arbol del fuego, chivato, clavellino, clavelino, flamboyant colorado, flamboyán, framboyán; framboyán rojo, flor de fuego, flor de pavo, guacamaya, guacamayo, josefina, malinche, morazán, poinciana, tabuchín [Spanish], Phượng vĩ [Vietnamese]; رنف ملكي [Arabic]; mjohoro,mkakaya [Swahili]; sekeseke [Yoruba]

Synonyms 

Poinciana regia Boj. ex Hook.

Related feed(s) 
Description 

The flamboyant (Delonix regia (Bojer) Raf.) is a perennial legume tree, grown in tropical and subtropical regions as an ornamental species because of its showy flowers. It is a valuable shade tree and the leaves and seed meal can be used to feed livestock.

Morphology

Delonix regia is a conspicuous, fast growing almost evergreen legume tree that can be 10-30 m in height and is shallow-rooted. Tree can shed its leaves in areas with a marked dry season. The bole is sometimes relatively short. The trunk may reach 2 m in girth and it can be buttressed towards the base. The bark is smooth, sometimes slightly cracked, with lenticels. The crown is umbrella-shaped, broadly spreading its long horizontal branches. The overall tree is thus larger in diameter than in height. The twigs are stout, greenish, finely hairy when young becoming brown. The leaves are bipinnate, alternate, feathery, 20-60 cm long, bearing 10-25 pairs of pinnae, each with 30-60 opposite leaflets. The leaflets are 0.5-1 cm long, stalkless, minutely hairy on both sides. The inflorescences are slightly fragrant corymbs borne laterally at the end of the twigs. The inflorescence bears large (5-13 cm), magnificent flowers, orange-red in colour, loosely arranged on 5-7.5 cm long stalks. The 4 clawed-petals are spoon-like in shape and the 5 sepals are thick, green in color, finely hairy. The fruit is a 30-75 cm long pod, It is green and flaccid when young, turning to brown and woody at maturity. The pods remain on the tree after it has shed its leaves. The 30-45 seeds contained in the pods are hard, greyish, mottled, oblong in shape, looking like date pits. They are hardcoated. The taxon name Delonix regia is after the greek "delos" meaning visible and "onyx" meaning claw and the latin "regia" meaning royal, magnificent. Most of the common names for Delonix regia (see Common names) are derived from the colour of its flowers (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2013; Orwa et al., 2009).

Uses

The main use of the flamboyant is ornamental. It is mostly planted in parks and avenues for its magnificent flowering and as a shade tree for cows or for other tree species in plantations, for instance in tea plantations. However, as the tree has been known to collapse without warning, they are no longer so popular as street trees in South Africa (Roux, 2003). Delonix regia leaves provide forage for livestock and the seed meal can be fed to farm animals. The flowers are a good and profuse source of feed for bees. The wood and the woody pods can be used as firewood. The timber can be used for light construction, fence posts or pirogues. The seeds can be used as pearls in collars. The bark is useful in ethnomedicine and the leaves and flowers have been reported to have herbicide effects on Mikania micrantha, an invasive climber. The wood ash of Delonix regia could significantly reduce several fungi and insects (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2013; Orwa et al., 2009).

Distribution 

Delonix regia originated from Madagascar where it is now almost extinct. Because of its ornamental potential, it has been introduced in many tropical and subtropical areas where it became naturalized and is now cosmopolitan wherever there is no risk of frost. It is found in both hemispheres from 12°N to 25 °S and from sea level up to 2000 m altitude in places where annual rainfall is between 700 and 1800 mm and where average annual temperature is the range of 18-26°C. It does not grow where minimal temperature is lower than 6°C. If rainfall is not high enough, it should be irrigated or it will shed its leaves. It does not survive dry spells of more than 6 months with less than 40 mm water.

The flamboyant thrives on well-drained soils with a wide range of pH from acidic to alkaline and it has some tolerance of salinity, especially of salt winds. In India, seedlings were found to have good growth performance and to be suitable for plantation and provision of fodder in lateritic soils. On the contrary, flamboyants had poor performance on alluvial soils (Nath et al., 1990; Nath et al., 1989). Delonix regia is a full sunlight tree that will grow weakly and sparsely under shade. It is a good shade tree in plantations (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2013; Orwa et al., 2009).

Forage management 

Delonix regia is easily propagated by seeds, even though they have long dormancy and may require long time to germinate (up to a year). The seeds should be scarified or boiled in water, and then sown in unshaded nursery beds or in polyethylene bags where they can be kept 3-5 months. After 9 months, the plants are too tall to be transplanted. Young plants are sensitive to fire and should be protected from grazing animals (Orwa et al., 2009). Another propagation method is by branch cuttings (Orwa et al., 2009). Flamboyants withstand severe prunings (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2013).

Environmental impact 

N-fixing legume tree and erosion control

The flamboyant is a N-fixing legume that can improve soil N status. Leaf and green stem prunings applied to a calcareous soil for 5 years resulted in improvement of 13% in N and higher organic C and mineralization (Isaac et al., 2003).

As a shade tree, Delonix regia is helpful in maintaining soil moisture and reducing soil temperature. Flamboyants have been planted on eroded sites for erosion control, and for soil rehabilitation (Rojas-Sandoval et al., 2013).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Leaves

Delonix regia leaves have a moderate protein content, particularly when they are old. Protein content decreased from 21% to 16% as leaves went from young to mature, while NDF almost doubled (16% to 28%) and ADF was almost unchanged (15% to 17% DM) (Narvaez et al., 2004)

Seeds

Delonix regia seeds contain 20.5% crude protein, 4.2% ether extract, and 4.5–6.8% crude fibre (Alemede et al., 2010a; Kaga, 2011). 
 

Potential constraints 

Leaves

Flamboyant leaves have been reported to contain high amounts of tannins, saponins and oxalates, though more data is required to properly quantify those data (Narvaez et al., 2004; Ladipo et al., 2014).

Seeds

Flamboyant seeds have been reported to contain tannins (< 3.5%DM), saponins (up to 12% DM), trypsin inhibitors (< 0.5 TIU/mg), cyanide compounds (200 mg/kg DM) and oxalates (0.2-0.3% DM) (Alemede et al., 2010b; Kaga, 2013; Kaga, 2015). Different processes aiming at eliminating or reducing these substances have been assessed experimentally. They involve combinations of heating (boiling, cooking, roasting), soaking (water, rumen liquor, KOH), fermentation etc. (Kaga et al., 2015 ; Abdullahi et al., 2005; Lamidi et al., 2019; Egena et al., 2008; Kudu et al., 2010).

Ruminants 

Leaves

Delonix regia leaves can be fed fresh or dried (Agbede, 2006; Agbede, 2005).

Palatability

Flamboyant foliage was found to be poorly palatable for goats (Kibria et al., 1994), which could be related to its high tannin and saponin content.

Digestibility and degradability

The in vivo OM digestibility of Delonix regia leaves was found to be relatively high (67%) and comparable to that of leucaena (69%) (Kibria et al., 1994). However, the in vitro DM digestibility of young and mature leaves were found to be 42% and 40%, and ranked poorly when compared to other legume trees including leucaena, gliricidia or prosopis. (Narvaez et al., 2004).

In a comparison of the in sacco DM degradability of leaves of legume trees Delonix regia, Bauhinia variegata, Erythrina glauca, and Cratylia argentea, DM degradability of Delonix regia was the highest (56%). When the NDF, ADF and nitrogen in sacco degradability of signal grass Brachiara decumbens pasture were assessed with cows fed with those legume species, the fibre degradability remained low with Delonix regia while nitrogen degradability was the highest with this species (Roa et al., 2012).

Goats

In Bangladesh, feeding Bengal goats with a diet based on flambloyant leaves and concentrate resulted in low growth (12 g/d) compared to that obtained with other tree leaves, notably Leucaena leucocephala (52 g/d). This poor result could be attributed to the very low palatability of flamboyant leaves, to the low protein content and low nutritive value compared to the other foliages (Kibria et al., 1994)

Seeds

The inclusion of flamboyant seeds into ruminant diets has been investigated as their high tannins and saponins could allow a reduction of CH4 in the rumen and improve ruminant efficiency (Supapong et al., 2017b).

Cattle

In Thailand, the seeds have been used in a series of experiments to assess their nutritive value in cattle and their potential effect on the reduction of methane emissions from cattle (Cherdthong et al., 2019; Supapong et al., 2017a). Young male zebus (125 kg BW) received increasing levels (0, 50, 100 and 150 g/day) of flamboyant seed meal as a supplement to their daily ad libitum rice straw + 0.5% BW commercial concentrate based diet. The seed meal consisted in dry and ground seeds, mixed with cassava roots and minerals and pelleted. The seed meal did not alter intake and nutrient digestibility, and had no deleterious effects on animal health. Increasing levels of seed meal increased protein intake and volatile fatty acids, propionic acid in the rumen, and microbial protein synthesis. It reduced protozoal populations and decreased CH4 production. It was concluded that flamboyant seed meal included at the highest level (150g/d) could improve rumen efficiency and reduce methane emissions (Cherdthong et al., 2019). A previous study done with 100 kg male zebus receiving 0, 90, 180 and 270 g/d of flamboyant seed meal as a supplement to a rice straw diet yielded similar results (except for a lower DM digestiblity) and also reduced the rumen protozoal population and CH4 production (Supapong et al., 2017b).

Goats

In Nigeria, young savanna brown female goats were fed on diets containing maize grain, rice waste and 6% of roasted Delonix regia seeds used as a total replacer of groundnut cake, with no deleterious effect on health parameters. Replacing 50% of groundnut cake with roasted flamboyant seeds improved performance, milk yield and milk quality (Alemede et al., 2010a; Alemede et al., 2010b; Ogunbajo et al., 2010).

Pigs 

No information could be found (as of 2020).

Poultry 

Broilers

Ground flamboyant seeds, raw or processed (fermented and treated with KOH) were included in broiler diets as a protein source and partial replacement of groundnut cake. Processed seeds had a lower fibre content (12.6 vs 19.3% DM) and half the phytic acid of the unprocessed seeds (0.27 vs 0.57% DM), which are two valuable traits for poultry feeding. Processed seeds included at 7.5% increased diet digestibility, feed intake and body weight gain. It has positive effect on protein feed conversion ratio and on protein efficiency (Egena et al., 2008). Cooked flamboyant seeds used as replacement of groundnut cake up to 20% dietary level without affecting growth performance, feed efficiency, nutrient digestibility or carcass characteristics (Kudu et al., 2010).

Rabbits 

Leaves

No information seems available on the utilization of fresh or dried Delonix regia leaves in rabbit feeding (as of October 2020). There is no objective reason to discard them if available. Flamboyant leaves can be used as forage for ruminants, but their nutritive value seems to be poor (see Ruminants section). Experiments with rabbits would be welcome, most probably as a forage distributed with a suitable concentrate.

Seeds

Flamboyant seeds are a potential source of protein for rabbit feeding due to their good protein content, but they contains antinutritional factors that can be reduced by heating and soaking processes (see Potential constraints). However, animal performance with rabbits fed boiled flamboyant seeds was unchanged compared to performance obtained with raw seeds, as shown in the table below (Kaga, 2013):

Parameters Raw Cooking time (minutes)
15 30 45 60 75 90
Feed intake (g/d) 33.2 37.0 30.9 46.1 52.3 40.7 50.0
Average daily gain (g/d) 18.8 11.8 12.8 19.0 17.4 15.8 17.9
Cost index of Live weight 100 142 106 105 141 123 121

This situation can be explained by the fact that Delonix regia seeds contain low levels of trypsin inhibitors (< 0.5 TIU/mg) compared for example to soybean seeds: 40 TIU/mg in raw seeds and 5-10 TIU/mg in toasted soybeans, the latter being well tolerated by rabbits (see the Soybean seeds datasheet). Indeed, a comparison between 30 raw tropical seeds fed to growing rats showed that Delonix regia seeds provided one of the best growth rates: 9.5 g/d for a range of 9.9 to -8.8 g/day (Grant et al., 1991). Rabbits growth performance was improved when boiled Delonix regia seeds were included at up to 40% in isoproteic (20% protein) diets (Kaga, 2013). In another study, Delonix regia seeds could replace maize grain up to 100% in rabbit diets without deleterious effects on the growth performance, carcass, haematology and serum biochemistry (Olajide et al., 2015). Raw flambloyand seeds seems therefore usable without practical problem in rabbit feeding.

It must be noted that the amino acid profile of Delonix regia seeds is imbalanced if they are used in rabbit complete diets. The seeds are deficient in important essential amino acids, the the seed protein covers only 65% and 78% of rabbit requirements for lysine and sulphur amino acids respectively (Oyedeji et al., 2017).

Pods

No information seems available on the utilization of Delonix regia pods in rabbit feeding (October 2020). Since raw seeds could be used in rabbit feeding without problem, the whole dried fruits (pods) may theoretically be considered as a potential forage for rabbits. This utilisation will save the work necessary to extract the seeds from the pods, makes it possible to enhance the value of the seeds and in addition will provide a source of fibre for rabbit diets (about 50% crude fibre in the pods). Nevertheless direct experiments with rabbits must be done before practical utilisation.

Fish 

Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

Flamboyant seeds ground and cooked (100°C during 120 min) included at increasing levels (0, 10, 15, 20%) in the diet of Nile tilapia fingerlings (1.2 g), in Nigeria. It was found that the 10% level provided the best results in terms of growth, specific growth rate, feed efficiency and protein efficiency. At 15% inclusion results were still comparable to those of fish on control diet. The fish needed 3-4 days to get used to the diet and above 10%, the feed intake was affected. Fish fat content increased with increasing level of seeds. It was thus suggested to use flamboyant seed meal at about 10-15% in the diet of Nile tilapia fingerlings (Bake et al., 2014).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 38.4   34.3 43.9 4  
Crude protein % DM 15.5 4.2 9.4 21.2 8  
Crude fibre % DM 16.1 3.8 11.7 20.4 5  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 36.2 19.4 16.1 57.5 5  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 23.9 8.2 15.5 34.6 5  
Lignin % DM 22       1  
Ether extract % DM 5.1 2.3 3 8.6 5  
Ash % DM 6.6 1.1 5.9 8.5 5  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 19       1 *
               
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 5.3 4.1 0.2 9.9 5  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 3 2.3 1 6.9 5  
Potassium g/kg DM 2.6   0.3 4.1 3  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.75   0.29 1.2 2  
Magnesium g/kg DM 0.8   0.3 1.2 3  
Manganese mg/kg DM 14   3 20 3  
Zinc mg/kg DM 21   20 22 3  
Copper mg/kg DM 8   2 12 3  
Iron mg/kg DM 137   43 201 3  
               
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 40       1  
               
In vitro digestibility and solubility Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
In vitro DM digestibility (pepsin) % 45   40 53 3  
               
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 70.4       1 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 67.3         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.8         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.4         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 52.4       1  
               
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 11.2         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 10.9         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 59.1         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 33.7         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Agbede, 2006; Aletor et al., 1994; Fleischer et al., 2000; Kibria et al., 1994; Ladipo et al., 2014; Narvaez et al., 2004; Oduguwa et al., 1997; Roa et al., 2012

Last updated on 29/10/2020 16:44:31

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 89.8 4.8 81.8 96.7 8  
Crude protein % DM 20 5.8 6.7 25.4 8  
Crude fibre % DM 12.9   7.5 19.3 4  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 26.6   19 34.2 2  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 18.4   12.3 24.5 2  
Ether extract % DM 6.8 3.3 2.5 10.8 5  
Ash % DM 6.8 4.6 1.1 15.8 8  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.9         *
               
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Alanine g/16g N 7.7       1  
Arginine g/16g N 6.6       1  
Aspartic acid g/16g N 6.8       1  
Cystine g/16g N 1.8       1  
Glutamic acid g/16g N 14.8       1  
Glycine g/16g N 8.1       1  
Histidine g/16g N 3.3       1  
Isoleucine g/16g N 5       1  
Leucine g/16g N 7.8       1  
Lysine g/16g N 3.3       1  
Methionine g/16g N 1.1       1  
Methionine+cystine g/16g N 2.9         *
Phenylalanine g/16g N 4.2       1  
Phenylalanine+tyrosine g/16g N 6.8         *
Proline g/16g N 5.4       1  
Serine g/16g N 5.5       1  
Threonine g/16g N 4.1       1  
Tyrosine g/16g N 2.6       1  
Valine g/16g N 5.5       1  
               
Fatty acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Myristic acid C14:0 % fatty acids 1.2       1  
Palmitic acid C16:0 % fatty acids 23.9       1  
Stearic acid C18:0 % fatty acids 8.2       1  
Oleic acid C18:1 % fatty acids 4.9       1  
Linoleic acid C18:2 % fatty acids 37.1       1  
Linolenic acid C18:3 % fatty acids 7.6       1  
               
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 1.7       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.6       1  
Potassium g/kg DM 10.1       1  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.18       1  
Magnesium g/kg DM 4.5       1  
Manganese mg/kg DM 32       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 56   10 102 2  
Copper mg/kg DM 13       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 99   72 127 2  
               
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Nitrogen digestibility, growing pig % 70.3         *
               
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 85.9         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 84         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.8         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 76.7         *
               
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 12.5         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 66.1         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Alemede et al., 2010; Bake et al., 2014; Cherdthong et al., 2019; Egena et al., 2008; Kudu et al., 2010; Lamidi et al., 2019; Oyedeji et al., 2017; Sowbaghya et al., 2019; Supapong et al., 2017

Last updated on 29/10/2020 12:08:32

References
References 
Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Lebas F., 2020. Flamboyant (Delonix regia). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/308 Last updated on October 30, 2020, 18:10