No Caribbean island imagery would be complete if it didn’t involve massive amounts of flora. Trinidad and Tobago’s endemic flora includes a total of 59 species of vascular plants belonging to 34 plant families. Thirty-nine of these species are endemic to Trinidad, 12 are Tobagonian endemics, and six are present on both islands.
Here are a few of the most renowned island favourites found in almost every home and garden throughout both islands.
There’s a dedicated section of the University of the West Indies that examines the lure of this fastidious plant. Accordingly to their website, “…the exotic Anthurium industry in the Caribbean was based on mainly imported Dutch cultivars, and the majority of cut-flowers produced in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago was exported to the North American market. Currently, in Trinidad, approximately 10 hectares of Anthurium are cultivated intensively, producing about two million cut-flowers annually and generating about US $750,000 in foreign capital”.
This bountiful plant, also known as ‘trinitaria’ in Venezuela and a few other regional isles, grows in warm climates and are mostly used for ornamental purposes. The stunningly soft petals and vibrant hues of a bougainvillea tree hide these monstrous thorns rather well. The plush flowers atop that are often tightly grown together also act as natural cover for a security home system.
Classified as an evergreen ornamental tree, the Chaconia also happens to be the national flower of Trinidad and Tobago. Also monikered “Wild Poinsettia” or “Pride of Trinidad and Tobago”, this gorgeous crimson flower is a forest flower of the family Rubianceae. The name itself comes from the last Spanish Governor of Trinidad and Tobago Don Jose Maria Chacon. Another great reason why the Chaconia is the symbol of T&T is the fact that this plant blooms annually on T&T’s Independence Day.
A flowering plant and member of the mallow family, the Hibiscus (also known as Roselle) is said to come in several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Growing up in Trinidad, many glasses of Hibiscus aka sorrel are consumed for Christmas and these days, just about any time the mood strikes. The hibiscus also comes in red, pink, yellow, orange and even double petal varieties.
Known as the West Indian Jasmine, these little flowers are immensely popular in home gardens. They’re also favourites with local hummingbirds, who are keen after the sweet nectar at the centre. Locally, Hindu homes also use this flower extensively for religious festivities. The Ixora comes in three colours: red, pink and yellow.
Jump Up and Kiss Me:
Yes, you read that right! Also known as the voila tricolour or wild pansy, this wee flower is a gorgeous tri-coloured thing of beauty. The beauties can be found in various colours, with their soft dewy middles often drawing attention from both the human and winged population.
The Trinidad and Tobago Orchid Society (TTOS) was founded in 1956 as an amateur non-profit society. TTOS is an affiliated society of the American Orchid Society. The Psychopsis Papilio is the emblem of the Society and it’s one of seven species of oncidiums found in Trinidad and Tobago. It was first imported into England in the 1800s and initiated the craze for orchid collecting in Europe.