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Fernandoa magnifica (Snake Tree) is small to large with a single or often multiple trunks. Its gray to pale brown bark is rough and has fissures with pale conical spines. Additionally, the leaves are opposite, dark green, shiny, pinnate with 4 to 7 pairs of leaflets and a terminal leaflet, and up to 10 inches long. Flowers are borne in bunches on short stalks when the tree has dropped it leaves; these are spectacular, bell-shaped, up to 4 inches in diameter, bright orange-red to pink with a yellow center. The showy blooms give the plant its species name.
Furthermore, the fruits are long slender pale brown capsules, flattened, spirally twisted (snake-like) and 1 to 2 feet long. The roots reportedly have medicinal use; the wood is used to make tools and as fuel. Propagated by seed, this tree prefers sandy well-drained soils. It is an endangered species in its native area of Africa because of its habitat loss. Fernandoa magnifica (Snake Tree) is a very is a very unusual, exotic and outstanding specimen plant, suitable for parks or gardens.
Snake tree as other exotic trees are typically of greater interest to the home gardener for the simple reason that they are different from the local populations of native trees. As such they generate greater attention because they may not be familiar to the average tree lover.