It’s hard to miss the poui tree with its brilliant yellow (or pink) flowers. It appears in full bloom, as if by magic one day, then a few days later, its flowers carpet the ground.
I don’t remember poui trees in the Jamaica of my childhood and had not noticed them on any of my many visits back. But sitting on the porch one morning a few months ago, a bright yellow tree in my neighbor’s backyard caught my eye. Then a day or so later, I watched as pieces of yellow fluttered silently to the ground, in ones or twos, like flakes of snow. By evening, the branches of the poui tree stood bare and forlorn; its flowers clustered so closely together, it looked as if the tree had on a bright yellow skirt.
I was disappointed and mystified. What happened? I wondered. How could such beautiful flowers not stay around longer for me to enjoy?
Sometime later, out of the blue, a riot of yellow appeared again in the backyard. This time, I snapped away happily and decided to watch, not sure whether the flowers would return and, if they did, how long they would take.
Two Fridays passed and the limbs were still brown. About a week later, I noticed flecks of yellow and the following morning, the poui tree was once again in full bloom. Sadly, these delicate flowers were no match for the torrential rain that came mid-morning. When the clouds cleared and the sun returned, not a speck of yellow was left.
But the poui tree was not to be beaten. Within a day or two, there was the unmistakable yellow calling out to me. I smiled. The world was right again.
Some Poui Facts:
Scientific Name: Tabebuia Serratifolia (Yellow), Tabebuia Rosea (Pink)
Common Names: Poui, Trumpet Tree, Pau d’Arco, Ipê
Location: Can be found from Southern Florida to Northern Mexico and South America. Also found in the Caribbean, notably in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago.
Size: According to the species, the poui tree can grow up to 150 feet, with a base 4-7 feet in diameter. The flowers are about 1-4″ and grow in dense clusters. Flowering season runs from January to May.
Uses: Because of its durability — it lasts 25 years — and ability to resist insects and termites, the wood of the poui tree is commonly used for decks, furniture and other outdoor projects. Since the 1960s, the New York City Parks Department has used the wood to maintain its boardwalks, including the one at Coney Island.
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.