1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Genus: Brownea Jacq.
      1. Brownea grandiceps Jacq.

        Rose of Venezuela is a tropical tree belonging to the pea and bean family (Fabaceae/Leguminosae). It is one of 12 species in the genus Brownea, which was named in honour of Dr Patrick Browne (1720–1790), an Irish botanist and physician.


    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Found in the understorey of Amazonian rainforests, rose of Venezuela is considered by many to be one of the most spectacular of all flowering trees.

    Rose of Venezuela is a tropical tree belonging to the pea and bean family (Fabaceae/Leguminosae). It is one of 12 species in the genus Brownea, which was named in honour of Dr Patrick Browne (1720–1790), an Irish botanist and physician.

    The tree produces magnificent, crimson, almost spherical inflorescences up to 20 cm wide, which hang from the underside of the main branches. It flowers sporadically throughout the year, and individual flowers remain open for only four days. Nevertheless, each inflorescence remains attractive for weeks, as it is composed of many flowers that open in succession.

    The magnificent crimson flowers lack any scent, but they secrete copious amounts of sweet nectar attracting hummingbirds, which pollinate the flowers. Nectar is also produced in extrafloral nectaries positioned on the sheath-like bracts that envelop the immature inflorescences.

    Rose of Venezuela is cultivated as an ornamental in tropical regions for its showy inflorescences and the striking appearance of the emerging foliage. 

    Dried flowers have been used in infusions to treat dysentery. Bark has been used to reduce bleeding and aid clotting of the blood. Rose of Venezuela has also been used as a contraceptive by indigenous tribes in the Ecuadorian and Colombian Amazon.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Rose of Venezuela is restricted to tropical South America. It is native to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, where it is found in the understorey of hot and humid tropical Amazonian rainforests.

    It has been introduced as an ornamental to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Oceania and is often grown in glasshouses in temperate areas.


    Overview: A tree growing up to 20 m tall. The trunk is light brown with conspicuous, horizontal lenticels (wart-like openings that allow gas exchange to take place).

    Leaves: About 30 cm long, hairless, borne alternately on the stem. Each leaf is divided into 8–26 elliptic leaflets with a noticeable drip tip (a feature typical of rainforest trees). Leaflets are arranged in pairs along a downy rachis (central axis). Young leaves are pendant, brown with green speckles, maturing to a uniform bright green.

    Flowers: Large scarlet flowers are arranged in dense, almost spherical inflorescences and are enclosed by conspicuous bracts. Each flower has five petals, four sepals, 11 stamens and one style with a hairy ovary. Flowering is intermittent, and the flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds.

    Fruits: The fruit is a woody pod (legume), covered in brown velvety hairs, and containing up to five large, brown seeds. The seeds are only viable for a short period of time.

    Playing dead to deter herbivores

    Rose of Venezuela has delicate young shoots with the immature foliage coloured brown with green markings and hanging down in limp tassels, giving the appearance of wilting or dying. Over a period of a few days, the soft leaves will slowly toughen up and turn deep green, and the entire shoot will gradually stiffen and adopt a more horizontal position.

    This astonishing change of appearance is thought to deceive potential predators, discouraging them from feeding on tender young growth, by camouflaging it to look like a dead branch with brown leaves.


    Brownea grandiceps is a tropical understory tree that requires well-drained soil, warm year-round temperatures and high relative humidity to thrive.

    At Kew, it is grown in a glasshouse with a minimum winter temperature of 18ºC as it does not tolerate temperatures below 15ºC for extended periods of time. It also requires a good supply of water until it is fully mature. Under conditions of low humidity, leaflet edges start to show symptoms of necrosis.

    This species at Kew

    Rose of Venezuela can be seen growing in the tropical rainforest zone of the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew. The flowers showed signs of self-incompatibility, but fertilization was successful with pollen from a different Brownea growing in Kew’s Palm House.

    Pressed and dried specimens of Brownea grandiceps, including the type specimen, are held in Kew’s Herbarium where they are available to researchers by appointment. Details of some of these specimens, including images, can be seen

    online in Kew’s Herbarium Catalogue.

    View details and images of specimens

    Specimens of seeds, dried flowers, leaves and wood from Brownea grandiceps are held in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
    Understorey of hot and humid tropical rainforest.
    Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria, but not considered to be threatened.

    None known.

    Ornamental, medicine.



    Found In:

    Brazil North, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela

    Introduced Into:

    Andaman Is., Bangladesh, India, Jawa, Malaya, New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad-Tobago, Uganda

    Common Names

    Rose of Venezuela

    Brownea grandiceps Jacq. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    May 1, 1991 Hartweg [s.n.], Colombia K000264895 holotype
    May 1, 1991 Hartweg [s.n.], Colombia K000264896 holotype
    May 1, 1991 Schunke, J.M. [11], Peru K000264897 isotype
    May 1, 1991 Killip, E.P. [37052], Venezuela K000264898 Unknown type material
    Hoehne, W. [s.n.], São Paulo K000834719

    First published in Collecteana 3: 287 (1791)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] Forzza, R.C., Zappi, D. & Souza, V.C. (2016-) Flora do Brasil 2020 em construção . http://reflora.jbrj.gov.br/reflora/listaBrasil/ConsultaPublicaUC/ResultadoDaConsultaNovaConsulta.do
    • [2] (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
    • [4] (2012) Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192
    • [5] Idárraga-Piedrahita, A., Ortiz, R.D.C., Callejas Posada, R. & Merello, M. (eds.) (2011) Flora de Antioquia: Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares 2: 1-939. Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín
    • [8] Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008) Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela . Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela
    • [11] Lock, J.M. & Ford, C.S. (2004) Legumes of Malesia a Check-List . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • [12] Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003) Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • [15] Jørgensen, P.M. & León-Yánes, S. (eds.) (1999) Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador . Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis
    • [16] Govaerts, R. (1996) World Checklist of Seed Plants 2(1, 2): 1-492. MIM, Deurne
    • [17] (1993) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 45: i-xl, 1-1286. Missouri Botanical Garden
    • [20] Lock, J.M. (1989) Legumes of Africa a check-list . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


    • [3] International Legume Database and Information Service (ILDIS) (2013). Brownea grandiceps. (Accessed on 3 April 2013).
    • [6] The Plant List (2010). Brownea grandiceps. (Accessed on 3 April 2013).
    • [7] (2008) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500
    • [9] Mabberley, D. J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: a Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
    • [10] Barwick, M. (2004). Tropical and Subtropical Trees: A Worldwide Encyclopedic Guide. Thames & Hudson Ltd., London.
    • [13] Llamas, K. A. (2003). Tropical Flowering Plants: A Guide to Identification and Cultivation. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
    • [14] Hanelt, P. (ed.) (2001). Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, Volume 2. Springer, Berlin.
    • [18] Klitgaard, B. B. (1991). Brownea — red-flowered rainforest trees as plant drugs. In: Las Plantas y El Hombre. Memorias del Primer Simposio Ecuatoriano de Etnobotánica y Botánica Ecónomica, ed. M. Ríos & H. B. Pedersen, pp. 235—247. Abya-Yala, Quito.
    • [19] Klitgaard, B. B. (1991). Ecuadorian Brownea and Browneopsis (Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae): taxonomy, palynology, and morphology. Nordic Journal of Botany 11: 433–449.
    • [21] Ducke, A. (1946). Plantas de cultura precolombiana na Amazônia Brasileira. Notas sobre as espécies ou formas espontâneas que supostamente lhes teriam dado origem. Boletim Técnico Instituto Agrónomo 8: 1–24.
    • [22] Seemann, B. (1865). Journal of Botany, British and Foreign, Volume 3. Robert Hardwicke, London.
    • [23] Hooker, W. J., Prain, D. & Stapf, O. (1855). Brownea grandiceps. In: Curtis’s Botanical Magazine Volume 81, Tab. 4839, Reeve Brothers, London.


    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2017). Published on the internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp
    [A] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [B] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [D] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Legumes of the World Online
    [E] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

    Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.
    [F] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0