The Chinese Lantern Tree is a small, deciduous tree with feathery, mimosa-like leaves that bears absolutely stunning, bottle-brush like flower clusters that are on long, slender stalks. The flower clusters are bi-colored and resemble colorful Chinese lanterns. Dichrostachys cinerea hails from tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia and northern Australia. It grows in forests, brushwoods and grasslands. grows up to 36 feet in height with spreading branches and a broad, rounded form. Leaves are light green and bipinnate. The flower clusters have sterile, bright pink flowers in the upper part and fertile, yellow flowers in the lower part of the inflorescence. The fruits are variously curved or coiled pods that contain a number of brown seeds. It is also known as the sickle bush for the curved fruits. The flowers produce nectar that is used to honey. The leaves and branches are used for fodder. D. cinerea is also one of the most widely used medicinal plants of the tropics. It has a fast growth rate and is easy to grow. Zones 9-11.
The seeds have a hard seed coat that has to be treated, or scarified, in order for water to enter the seeds so that they can sprout.
1. Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
2. Soak the seeds in water for several hours.
3. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
4. Put the seeds on the soil.
5. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
6. Water the seeds.
7. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade.
8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.