For those on island. Enjoy your flamboyant trees. I miss them. I moved to Atlanta and checked into growing one in my yard. Unfortunately they can't survive our winters. They only grow (stateside) in Southern California and Southern Florida. They don't grow well in pots so they can't be moved in winter to an indoor facility. I am bummed. The fire red blossoms are awesome and the bonsai type growth of the trees is picturesque even when not in bloom. I have my pictures of them to sigh over. They are originally from Africa I understand. Hey, don't laugh at my obsession, there are even message boards like this one on the subject. My favorite one on STT that I remember is beside Drake's Seat. Okay, enough on the subject.
The flamboyants are indeed indigenous to Africa and they also bloom with yellow flowers as well as the more common red. But here's a bit of history for you.
Ronnie will of course correct me if I get my history and dates a bit mixed up (!) but flamboyants weren't growing here until the late Isidor Paiewonsky, I believe back in the 1920s, flew over the island in a small plane and dropped a whole bunch of their seed pods which rooted and grew in due course. They are truly magnificent in bloom but are also wonderful shade trees and they're one of my first memories moving here...
Development over the years was the demise of many of the trees. They have very long-reaching roots which stretch for water during dry season (as do the genips) and their encroachment can be hazardous to cisterns whose concrete walls they can eventually penetrate. Anybody interested in the history of the Virgin Islands should read Isidor Paiewonsky's great books. They're carried at Dockside Bookstore on STT and are wonderful reading. He passed a couple of years back in his 90s but was a great historian and I had some great telephone chats with him on history in general when I started off the old Danish Cemetery restoration project. A wonderful man, sharp as a tack into his adage with a great sense of humour and tremendous insight. Cheers!
Yes,it was Ariel Melchior, Sr. That did it. Was much later than the 20s. I think in the late 40s or early 50s. He offered 10 cents a pound for the seeds and the kids brought them in in droves. Some even had rocks in their bags to make some extra $$!! Jack Monsanto, the only man to land and take off a plane in St. John, flew the plane.
I also love flamboyant trees and look forward to their blooming every year. The hillsides and neighborhoods just seem to come to life when they are blooming all over. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason there were two beautiful old trees just cut down, trunk, roots and all over in front of the Animal Shelter Thrift Store on St. Croix. People in the neighborhood can't believe they did it. The trees provided shade and of course protection for many birds. They did not appear diseased or dying as they bloomed beautifully every year. It is such a shame to go by there now. I would love to know what their reasons were for cutting them down.
Flamboyant Tree are heaven for termites at least thats what my termenix guy told me...nice soft wood. I have two in my back yard that are very close to my house. They make me nervous because of what my bug guy told me and because what idiot plants trees this close to their house when they live in the land of hurricanes? I grew up in a tropical area that had hurricanes as well and you just do not do that kind of thing. Maybe these are one of the reasons they took it down, they are also hard on any underground plumbing.
Their extensive and far-reaching root system can indeed be hazardous to cisterns/plumbing but also make them very capable of withstanding hurricanes. The STT house in which I had lived for 10 years was devastated during "Marilyn" but the three flamboyants right outside were fine. Of course all their leaves were stripped off but they quickly recovered. I did have a problem with termite nests at one time but a visit from an exterminator fixed them!
Thanks for correcting me about their planting. I probably got confused beause I may have read one of Isidor Paiewonsky's historical contributions to the Daily News years ago where he related that project. Increasing age and memory lapses come hand in hand, I guess!
Thats a good point about Flaymboyant trees since they are soft they will bend with the wind and do better in a hurricane then a hardwood tree would. But I still remember one crashing into my bathroom as a child so mine will probablly go. Not to mention the time when our roof literally came off.
We had dozens of Flamboyants up our walled driveway and on the hillside - including one over our back patio,. I loved to look at the blooms, but they are very work intensive to own. Lots of fallen mess and, as Betty says, heaven for termites. Definitely not a tree for close to the house.
We had a great deal of success transplanting the babies that grew under the trees. I think that St Croix would benefit from having more planted. Very tropical and beautiful.
They might be beautiful but they sure break up the concrete around my place. Another thing, there is hardly anything that grows underneath them! The must drop some sort of mist that prevents the growing of most anything under them. Have lost many hibiscus, oleander, and a few others trying to grow in flower beds they hung over! When you see one sitting out in a field even the grass underneath doesn't grow!