The Caribbean conjures images of abundant sunshine, white-sand beaches, balmy weather and vibrant tropical flowers. The plant life indigenous to the 21 island countries of the Caribbean includes a wide variety of colourful flowers. Different varieties of amaryllis, hibiscus, heliconia and other flowers native to tropical climates produce well in the Caribbean. The pink hibiscus, Ixora plant, lobster claw and cannonball tree are some unique-looking flowers that bloom in the Caribbean.
Yellow bells (Tecoma stans) is a perennial shrub native to several Caribbean nations including the West Indies, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Tortola and Virgin Gorda, among others. Yellow bells is also the official national flower of both the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. This drought-tolerant shrub grows best in bright, partially shaded areas in well-drained, rocky loam soils. Tecoma stans is a long-blooming plant and flowers from April through November. Ornate clusters of cheerful, trumpet-shaped golden blossoms sprout from olive-green, slender, erect branches. Flowers are large and showy, range from 3 to 5 inches in diameter and 4 to 8 inches in length.
Christopher Columbus found Lignum Vitae (Guiacum Officinale), a native tree of the Caribbean, in Jamaica. Lignum Vitae is a flowering perennial tree that produces dark purple to lilac blossoms. Flowers spread about 1 inch in diameter, are star-shaped, have five petals and striking yellow anthers at centre. This extremely ornamental blossom is the official national flower of Jamaica. Ligum Vitae grows best in partially shaded areas in dry, limestone-based sandy soil. Under ideal conditions, the height of this leafy evergreen ranges from 6 to 12 feet tall. The bark, gum, fruit, leaves and blossom of this tree also provide healing properties useful in the treatment of syphilis and gout.
Butterfly Jasmine (Hedychium Coronarium Koenig) grows in tropical and subtropical parts of the Caribbean and Asia. Butterfly Jasmine is also the official national flower of Cuba and symbolises purity, rebellion and independence. This member of the lily family grows best in partial to fully shady habitats in nutrient-rich, moist soil. Butterfly jasmine produces clusters of one to five flowers that look like butterflies. Blossoms have three outward-facing, brilliantly white petals and produce a rich and invigorating scent. A small, yellow, crescent-shaped gland sits at the base of each petal and secretes a nectar-like substance palatable to beetles. This Caribbean flower prefers humid, tropical climates but adapts to other habitats, including mountain meadows, grasslands and open forest.
Bougainvillea (Nyctaginaceae) is the official state flower of Grenada, an island country in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. This tropical member of the four-o'clock family of flowering plants bears the name of Admiral Louis de Bougainvillea, a friend of the French botanist who discovered the plant. This thorny, leafy, flowering vine produces small white, trumpet-shaped blossoms throughout the year. Flowers appear inconspicuous against the mass of colourful pink, purple and magenta leaves surrounding them. In the Caribbean, colourful leaves adorn the plant 11 months out of the year because of near-constant humid and moist growing conditions. Although Bougainvillea is native to tropical Asia, different varieties of this flowering vine grows all over the world, including Vera deep purple, imperial delight and Miami pink.
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