What can be white, pink, yellow or any shade in between and remains the same thing? A Poui tree of course. Its lofty almost weightless petals of this tree add a sense of dread to almost all students –aware of its warning of upcoming exams – an elegant penthouse for a travelling nightingale, a romantic picnic spot for a loving couple, and a photographers dream.
The scientific name for this beautiful specimen is Tabebuia; it can be used for various jobs. The wood provides a wide range of uses as it is a source of timber for people of the Caribbean. It is resistant to salt water, termites, and other insects making it a viable option in boat making, decking and other wood related projects. Poui tree wood is actually used on Coney Island for the boardwalks as it is very durable.
The nectar produced by these trees provides nourishment for vital animals of the Caribbean ecosystem such as: bees and hummingbirds.These trees are therefore bred by beekeepers as a source for their bees. The Poui tree can grow up to 150 feet, with a base 4-7 feet in diameter and densely clustered flowers about 1-4. Flowering season runs from January to May, which is the dry season in most Caribbean countries; it will not bloom again until the next dry season or dry spell.
This amazing tree can be spotted (without much effort) across Jamaica; in someone’s yard, a commercial district and in school yards. The presence of the Poui is ingrained within our very culture as very often we put meanings to the blooming of this exuberant plant. It is a tradition that school children watch the blooms of the Poui to decide on when to begin studying. There are naturally three times when the Poui blooms that school children look for: once in mid February to give an indication that the time is drawing near, once in March to indicate the time for studying is upon them and the third at the end of April or Mid May to indicate that the time of studying is long gone.
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Tourists often stare in awe of the majesty of this specimen of a tree. It offers many opportunities for photos to be taken, whether beside the blooming tree or upon the freshly fallen petals, and relaxing moments to be spent underneath it. I’m sure if you check with any of your friends that have travelled to Jamaica during the dry season (which includes Carnival season) can attest to seeing bright bunches of petals settled upon a Poui tree and smiling.
The true essence of the Poui tree is captured in the act of children playing among the fallen petals. The frolicking children and joyous Poui tree have both innocence and freedom pulsating from them in resonance with the other. The exuberance of the children coupled with the breathtaking vibrancy or soft hue of the petals exude the comforting feeling of home. Because when a Jamaican sees a blooming Poui on a warm afternoon I’m sure they can all say that we feel at home.
By: Alexandra Daley