The bright red poincianas may seem to be flourishing across Katherine, but many long-term locals say their late bloom is just another indication Katherine is in a drought.
The vivid flowers usually begin to appear late in September signalling the end of the wet season.
Other flowering trees like the Cassia fistula, commonly known as the golden shower and the Pride of India usually follow suit.
For the past two years, Katherine's wet seasons have recorded unusually low rain totals, depleting the aquifer and pushing the flora and fauna to their brink.
About four weeks late, the poinciana's delayed bloom is tied in with a myriad of small but telling indicators Katherine is in a water crisis.
Dead trees have had to be cut down, the cicadas haven't been heard, wasps have barely made a show, baby wallabies have been let out by their mothers early, and many long-term residents say the river has never looked so low.
"All of the trees are struggling, on Giles Street the mahoganies and the tamarinds almost look dead," curator of the Katherine Museum Simmone Croft said.
Hooked on history, she's made a point of knowing all there is to know about significant trees in Katherine, most planted when her father was a young boy in the town.
"All the trees I look at are a month late flowering, except for the [poinciana] at the museum, because it gets watered," she said.
"And even when they have flowered, the colour is not as prolific as they have been in the past."
Usually a vibrant hot red, she says this year the colour is closer to orange.
Despite below average rainfall recorded during the 2018 to 2019 wet season, there were a couple of particularly violent storms.
During one of them in February, over 20 trees were ripped up, Mrs Croft said.
She fears the trees are so dry and brittle, impending storms could wreak havoc.
Daily recordings of rain totals from the Katherine Museum's rain gauge, which are logged with the Bureau of Meteorology, paint a dry picture.
More than 20ml of rain was recorded last year in October and by this date, November 15, 40ml had been recorded. Not a single drop has been recorded for the same time period this year.
Elisabeth Clark, a resident of Katherine since 1968, who has been involved in horticulture, landscaping and a nursery for most of her life, echos sentiments Katherine is struggling.
"The plants are not coping well because of the heat and the dry spell."
Plants in her garden which usually breeze through a dry season without any water are at a crisis point, she said.
She said the severity depends on which side of Katherine the plants are growing on.
"On the southern side, the poincianas are blooming pretty well, but on the western side they bloomed later.
"I have noticed a group of gum trees on Florina Road which usually can cope with the heat, have died."
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