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Tobago Travels

MADISON'S

TOP 10 FLOWERS FOR THE ANTHOPHILE IN YOU

Anthophile: Description {wiktionary.org}

Etymology; (antho- [botany; forms words relating to flowers] +‎ -phile [from Latin -phila, from Ancient Greek φίλος (phílos, “dear, beloved”].)

Noun; anthophile (plural anthophiles) 1. (zoology) An organism that visits flowers. 2. A person who loves flowers.

Tobago is blessed with two seasons, the Dry season from January to May and the Wet season from June to December with a constant average temperature of 29 degrees Celsius.

This is the best balance for vegetation on the island as it allows for you to experience flowering plants throughout the year. Traditionally, one had to go far and wide, across the island in order to experience the differing vegetation and plant life according to the time of year. Fortunately, there is a hidden gem, easily accessible to a chosen few where there resides a wide variety of exotic tropical flowering pants 365 days a year on your visit to Tobago. This Gem in the Tobago Plantations resort and Golf Course. The grounds here are abound with differing flowering plants and some fortunate guests of the Luxury villa rentals of Shandison Villa, Sea La Vista Villa and Sea La Vie Villa can experience the private

gardens that the villas offer their guests.

Yet, words cannot describe the vibrant, multi-coloured flowers that gives Tobago it’s uniquely Caribbean look, here are some of my favourites

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#10 - YELLOW BELLS

Yellow Bells: (Tecoma stans) is a species of flowering perennial shrub in the trumpet vine family, Bignoniaceae, that is native to the Americas; It extends from the southern United States throughMexico, Central America and the Antilles to northern Venezuela, and through the Andes Mountain range to northern Argentina. Common names include yellow bells, yellow trumpetbush, yellow elder, ginger-thomas.

A little trivia; It is the official flower of the United States Virgin Islands and the floral emblem of The Bahamas.

The large, splendid, golden yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers are in clusters at the branch ends. Flowering takes place all year round. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The plant produces pods containing yellow seeds with papery wings, they release many seeds with membranous wings which spiral through the breeze, landing wherever they please.

These yellow-trumpets will announce your arrival to the island, and greet you every morning when you wake. You may squint when looking directly at these bright-yellow-clusters, don’t fret… just throw on your coolest shades, and enjoy the view.

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#9 - BOUGAINVILLEA

Once again don’t let the rating fool you, you cannot get a more tropical flower that this. The colours are prominent and long lasting. These plants grow anywhere, on anything, have been known to be alive for more than 50 years, and with modern grafting can be seen with differing flowers on a single steam. They are drought resistant and need very little care to remain in full bloom year-round. But don’t get too close, if you thought rose-thorns were bad, then let me introduce you to ‘Mr. Bougainvillea’.

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These Brazilian flowers known as Bougainvillea have become synonymous with Tobago landscaping. You will see them lining house gates and walls, with sprays of flowers that look paper-like, that come in vibrant colours of pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, fuchsia, indigo, violet and even white.

The species can grow 1 to 12 metres (3 to 39 ft) tall, scrambling over other plants with their spiky thorns. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, the leaves are alternate, simple ovate-acuminate, 4–13 cm long and 2–6 cm broad.

A popular choice for any landscape, you’ll see these spiked-beauties spread throughout Tobago, from homes to hotels, villas to government complexes, everyone loves Bougainvillea, we hope you do too.

#8 - CROTON

Don’t let my rating fool you – I love them. The colours… the colours… the colours. These abound in Tobago with every home having differing species and varieties. They are extremely hardy, which lends to their popularity. In more modern gardens they have been grafted, where the leaf shape, size and colours are spectacular and worthy of pictures by them self. Traditionally treated as ground covers, I think they can stand on their own as one of Tobago’s most abundant plants.

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Croton or “Joseph’s Coat”, known for its multi-coloured patten, is a perennial with a woody stem. It is a member of the Euphorbiaceous family and broadleaf evergreen. Its ornamental appearance is largely due to the vividly coloured foliage containing irregular splashes of green, pink, yellow, red,

orange, purple and even bronze. Crotons grow well outdoors during warm months and require medium care.

The plants of this genus were described and introduced to Europeans by Georg Eberhard Rumphius. The common names for this genus are rushfoil and croton.

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#7 - DESERT ROSE

My Aunt Alicia’s favourite flower, and perhaps the reason we have a few plants at our home, given to us by my aunt for safekeeping.

 

I learnt that they belong to the family of succulents and Cacti, but with constant water, they thrive and flower year-round. The Desert Rose is a true dramatic show of brilliant reds and pinks, and the best part is that this low-water, low-maintenance beauty can easily be nurtured by any gardener.

 

Don’t be scared, this rose has no thorns, this rose will never harm you.

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#6 - HELICONIA ("FALSE" BIRD OF PARADISE)

You don’t get more Tropical than that!

Tobago has them in red and pink with both varieties found in abundance in the wild and in many home gardens. There is a myth that snakes abound in these patches… however… this is far from the truth.

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The Heliconia is a gorgeous, highly sought-after plant. Known to bushmen as ‘lobster-claws’, they are native to tropical Americas. Used frequently in modern Caribbean flower arrangements, these ‘cut- flowers’ can last over a week, and with regular water changes, these flowers can bring joy both on the stalk as well as in the vase.

 

These hearty plants sprout from bulbs, and are constantly growing, cutting down a patch of these flowers only means that much more will sprout to reclaim the space.

#5 - CRINUM

I place them into the family of the ‘wall-flower’ as their beauty goes mostly unnoticed.

In the Gardens of Shandison you can find many Crinums spotted throughout the Tobago Plantations.

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A member of the ‘lily’ family, these perennial plants have large showy flowers, and are sprouted from bulbs. From these bulbs, many “pups” or suckers widen the base of the plant.

These flowers are a beautiful option, as a centre piece of any garden, but fear not, I know a place where you can find some all-year-round.

#4 - OLEANDER

These flowers are year-round bloomers and can be seen in pink, white and blood red. The flowers grow in clusters at the end of each branch, and if you time it right, you may be able to smell the sweet-scent this flower exudes.

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.This subtropical shrub, or small tree, is most commonly grown in its shrub form. It does exceptionally well in either inundation as well as drought, making it a perfect plant for a novice or seasoned gardener.

With a specimen like this greeting me every morning, come rain or shine, the Oleander brightens my day, every day. I’m sure it will do the same for you, all you have to do is book now.

#3 - MUSSAENDA

In Tobago we have 3 colours – white (Donna Aurora), pink / peach (Donna Laz) and red. These plants are treated as “soft” flowers by locals as they do not do well as cut flowers and normally only last a few weeks on the trees. Once in bloom they are a sight to behold.

 

Mussaenda has been traditionally used in the treatment of eye troubles, skin infections, ulcers, wounds, cough and bronchitis. The current study investigated antimicrobial effects of Mussaenda against bacteria and fungus.

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The feeling of these petals in your hands can simply be described as luxurious. Its velvety texture allows water to bead easily – forming perfect little gems that catches light, causing these flowers to gleam even more, after the rain.

 

Whether they’re white, pink, peach or red you can spend many hours in the shade of this plant, without even leaving your villa. The Mussaenda makes my list of the beautiful flora that Tobago has to offer.

#2 - LANTANAS

Lantanas are hardy and flower all year around in Tobago. There are about 150 species and you can easily see the variations, look carefully as they are subtle. Lantana's aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, blue and white florets. The flowers typically change colour as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two or three coloured.

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You can’t miss the distinct citrus-fragrance that this multi-hued little flower emits. If the sight of it doesn’t relax you, then take a deep breath, and when ready, exhale all that doesn’t bring you joy.

#1 - HIBISCUS

Harder to find in recent years due to the influx of a pest called the mealybug, which has destroyed may local plants. The hibiscus is making a strong comeback in recent years, there are over 200 different species of Hibiscus plants in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. For me, you can’t beat a simple white flower, that symbolizes the Tobago beach.

FUN FACT – Tobago makes a tea made from hibiscus flowers and is served both hot and cold. The beverage is known for its red colour, tart flavour, containing vitamin C and rich in antioxidants.

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When growing up on the islands, locals would treat children’s fevers and colds with fresh, hot Hibiscus flower Tea, but lucky for you, you don’t have to get sick to enjoy a cup, just grab a flower, use only the petals, add hot water and enjoy – add sugar or honey to taste.

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