African tulip tree is a large upright tree with glossy deep green pinnate leaves and glorious orange scarlet flowers. The tree has a stout, tapering, somewhat buttressed trunk covered in warty light gray bark. The lateral branches are short and thick. The 1-2 ft long opposite leaves, which emerge a bronzy color, are massed at the ends of the branches. They are composed of 5-19 deeply veined oval leaflets. The horn shaped velvety olive buds appear in upturned whorls at the branch tips. A few at a time, the buds of the lowest tier bend outward and open into big crinkled red orange tulip-like bells with red streaked gold throats, frilly yellow edges, and four brown-anthered stamens in the center. They are followed by 5-10 in green brown finger-like pods pointing upwards and outwards above the foliage. Each of these pods contains about 500 tissue papery seeds. The tree flowers in spurts all through the growing season.