Botany

Wild Flowers in the Caribbean



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"Wild Flowers in the Caribbean"
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Flowers are always beautiful and are found year round in the tropics, and that is especially true in the Caribbean.  They bloom in winter, spring, summer and fall, and in every color imaginable.  You can always ask at hotels what are the flowers being used for landscaping, but wildflowers along the roadside are sometimes a bit more difficult to identify.  What are some of the more common wildflowers in the Caribbean?

Along the coast there are bluish-purple, trumpet shaped flowers found in the vines along the sand, they are Ipomea, locally known as Beach Morning Glory.  They climb everywhere and have millions of thread-like roots that help to stabilize the sandy beaches.  They are often mixed in with various types of "beach peas" that have tiny yellow or purple flowers!

Ipomea can also cover trees and be found inland, though it is I. tillacea rather than the beach variety (I. pes-caprae).  These flowers are often more blue and the leaves not as thick. It is interesting to note that the Ipomea flowers were used by the original native peoples for spiritual medicins, bringing good luck and removing evil influences,

There are also small, pink flowers along many of the roads and covering fences throughout the West Indies.  This plant is a favorite with honeybees, thus spawning the local names of Bee Bush or Bee Weed.  Ornamentally you will find it listed as Coralita or Coral Vine (not coral bush) and used as a hanging basket.

There will also be numerous shrubs with tiny, multicolored flowers that attract the butterflies, it is likely one of several different types of lantana that are native the islands.  Some of the flowers change color as they are pollinated.  If you crush a leaf, you get the strong smell of sage, so the common local name is wild sage.

Stringy beautiful flowers with a cross in the middle, all sorts of different shapes, colors and sizes?  There are over 300 varieties of passion fruit vines that grow and are common in the Caribbean.  Most are edible, at the right stage.  Eat them wrong and they have low levels of cyanide and give you an upset stomach.

Yellow daisy looking flowers are wedelia, there are both climbing vinesand shrubs.  Some are used in traditional folk medicine for treating coughs and colds.

Flowering trees are also found all around the islands, such as Poinciana trees, Orchid trees (Not true orchids, those are actually rare) and Bottlebrush trees.  None of these are native, but they have all naturalized and now grow wild!

Enjoy the wild flowers of the Caribbean!

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