Pride of Barbados
There are hundreds of plants at The Treehouse in Marigot Bay but this Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrimas) has really caught my attention. Not only do the flowers provide a tasty snack for the many birds and insects here, but this plant is interactive in its own way.
Snack Crackle & Pop!
Once the flowers have been fertilised and the seeds have ripened, the seed pods dry out in the baking St Lucia sun and then, when they have shrunk and twisted to breaking point, they audibly ‘Pop’ sending their seeds up to 10 metres from the parent tree. We are hearing a few pops a day at the moment which is testament to the heat out here in March, which is the dry season and explains why many of the plants are past flowering right now.
What’s in the Name?
Whilst it’s name suggests it originates from Barbados, no-one really knows where it first entered the world as it is widespread across the Caribbean. Wherever it originates from, it is a beautiful plant that brightens up my day. I managed to catch the last few flowers on the beautiful specimen that greeted us every morning in The Treehouse as well the seed pods at various stages of dryness before the final act of the seeds being cast far and wide.
More about Pride of Barbados
These tropical trees can exist in cooler climates, dying back to pretty much ground level when temperatures get near freezing in the winter. With some protection you can rely on them coming back after a light frost but these are tropical trees that much prefer tropical climates where they can reach over 3 metres in heaight and create dazzling displays of red flowers.
Pride of Barbados is a member of the Pea family (Fabaceae) which is why their pods will be very familiar to many of you reading this post. The fern-like leaves create dappled shade so are ideal to locate near a sun deck or similar to provide some respite from the sun on very hot days. These plants shift gracefully in the breeze, adding depth and movement to your garden as well as being a home and larder for all sorts of insects and birds. All in all this tree is a very useful wildlife plant for tropical climates.
And just in case you are wondering, I threw the seeds back into the garden to give them a chance of germinating 🙂