Ginger Thomas – Nonnative Official Flower of the U.S. Virgin Islands
The United States Virgin Islands is home to many different types of people from all over the world. On its own, the Big Island, my home island of St. Croix, has seen seven different flags fly over her shores. The diversity across all three primary U.S. Virgin Islands has only grown in recent years as tourism and oil refining have attracted all types of people from all over the U.S., the Middle East, and elsewhere. Our islands are a true melting pot; one overwhelmingly made better by the sum of the many disparate ethnic parts that have come to settle here over the centuries. It’s only fitting, then, that another nonnative, the ginger thomas, is the official flower of the USVI.
Ginger Thomas, aka: Trumpet Bush
Tecoma Stans, as they’re more formally known, are distinguished by their bright yellow blossoms. The brilliant bursts of floral sunshine bloom in a shape akin to trumpets. Not surprisingly, they’re also known as yellow bells or yellow trumpet bush.
(Other alternate names include yellow elder and esperanza.)
Ginger thomas, though, is the name I remember most from my childhood in Saint Croix.
These flowers are found everywhere throughout the USVI, but they’re not from our islands.
Nonnative, But Right At Home
Ginger Thomas are actually native to Florida, Texas, and other parts of the American Southwest.
They definitely fit just fine in the USVI, though, especially when it comes to traditional West Indian bush medicine.
Over the generations, ginger thomas leaves have been employed by Virgin Islanders in the treatment of fever, headaches, and high blood pressure. Some even say they help to fight diabetes.
Most people these days, though, simply know and love ginger thomas for its pretty and fabulously fragrant flowers.
The best time to catch them blooming is after extended rainy periods.
*Photo by Patrick Bennett