Nothing expresses the flowering excess of the tropics better than the
aptly named flamboyant tree
Mobile Frames No Frames
Called the flame tree, this native of Madagascar dazzles the eye with its red flowers bursting out in
June to mark the rainy season, profusely covering its umbrella-shaped head, so welcome for
shady protection from the tropical sun.
Dropping its leaves for the drought season, the flamboyant
still impresses the winter visitor with its two-feet-long green seed pods, becoming brown
and used as rattles, the mature seeds shaking out its distinctive sound in the wind.
The example above comes from the grounds of beautiful Paradise Beach Resort, where this
awesome display seems to be taking the ladies posing in front under its spell. Also shown
is the common oleander, being used as a hedge as it often is.
There's a nice specimen near the Virgin Queen in Road Town
on Fleming Street near the top of
Main Street. See this "flamboyant clad
hillside" at St. Lucia.
The highly individualistic people of the islands, combined
with a great variety of plantlife, indigenous and introduced, results in a mosaic of
styles and places from careful to casual.
Visitors are happy to see their house and
summer-garden plants growing outdoors.
Landscaping practiced at resorts and guesthouses alike is likely
to emphasize tropical flowering plants. Flamboyant trees are seen above at Long Bay Beach Resort.
seems like one complete flowering oasis.
And at Mahoe Bay, individual villa gardens transform this
whole hillside valley into a spectacular Hillside Garden Valley.
addition to the Mahoe Bay villas, this
beautiful flower graces the Anegada
Reef Hotel and Peter Island's
Tradewinds restaurant. To graphic.
A charming little bird only four inches long, seen as an flitting bundle of yellow belly,
made strikingly bright by the contrast to its gray slate back.
Get out the sugar.
That's all it takes to have a noisy group of these
very active squeaking "party" birds, some hanging upside down to feed, some
messing with the others.
Found everywhere from gardens to farms, and even in the
rain forest feeding on cecropia fruits, bananaquits prefer nectar but will eat insects as
well (photo: Reef
Madness Villa, also picture,
picture, perched on a St. John century plant,
To prepare for an extended breeding season and
multiple clutches of two or three heavily spotted eggs, bananaquits slap together little
globular nests of grasses and narrow leaves, all with side entrances to escape snakes.
Look for their nests in the organ pipe
cactus, useful for its spiny protection against the mongoose.
Nature's fascinating "whirlybirds" hover precisely at the entrance of voluptuous
deep flowers to probe with their long thin beaks for the profuse nectar on which they
primarily feed. Also, their feather structure, rather than pigment,
reflects and absorbs light to create color by "scattering" light across a
dazzling rainbow spectrum in action. These adaptations provide an amazing spectacle
combining beauty and flying virtuoso.
|All green except some violet on its breast and a dark
tail, the Carib is larger than another common hummingbird, the doctorbird, but frequents a
similar variety of habitats, including dry woodlands and island farms as well as gardens
(graphic art: David Thrasher). See a map of its Caribbean range, stamps
coin cuff links honoring this island favorite.
This feisty little hummingbird can be seen doing aerial combat, chasing others away from
its flowers. Distinguished by its tiny crest, which in the male is a distinctive green or
blue-green, the doctorbird, green on its back and light gray or brown below,
is also called the Antillean Crested Humingbird.
The female lines its thimble-sized nest with spider
webs or milkweed fluff. She incubates and raises the young from two tiny white eggs laid
between February and July.
Ashore in the Islands