By its vary names alone, this boundlessly beautiful cascade of vibrant tropical flowers crowning an equally striking tangle of trunk, limbs, roots, and leaves is, most obviously, much more than an ordinary tree.
The Royal Poinciana, or Flamboyant as it’s better known among us island folk, is as emblematic to me of my own personal version of the REAL Caribbean as any tree incapable of producing my favorite tropical fruit.
Not only was this among my favorite trees to climb with my brothers, but it also provided us with musical instruments – shack-shacks!
Seed pods on Flamboyant trees are long and slender, generally extending a good foot-and-a-half. When dry and brown, the seeds inside rattle when the pods are shaken, adding a neat bit of percussion to the made-up soundtrack of our equally make-believe outdoor adventures.
(Flamboyant seed pods also make pretty good swords with their own built-in sound effects!)
While the seed pods still appeal to the Crucian kid in me, it’s the stunning beauty of the Flamboyant’s flowers that have really made it famous. Scattered about our mostly green hills, the orange-red blooms burst brilliantly, like sparkling ornaments on a Christmas tree.
You won’t find Flamboyant trees doing their thing during the Holiday Season, though. This color show is strictly a summer thing; another good reason to head for the islands even when the weather’s warm wherever you are…