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Plants & Flowers of the Bahamas

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Plants & Flowers of the Bahamas

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The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, southeast of Florida, comprises about 700 islands and 2,500 islets in the Caribbean. These islands were once coral reefs that became land masses when sea levels dropped centuries ago. The tropical maritime climate favors a range of endemic and imported plants and flowers, which benefit from approximately 310 days of sunshine annually, and a temperature range of about 75 to 84 degrees F.

Yellow Elder

The yellow elder ((Tecoma stans) is the national flower of the Bahamas, although not a native plant of the Islands. It came to the Bahamas as a landscaping species. Its common name derives from its foliage, which resembles that of the elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). The yellow elder mostly takes the form of a small tree or large bush with bright yellow blooms. In the Bahamas, the yellow elder tree grows in the wild as a volunteer. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil, but progresses hardily in most soil conditions. The yellow elder is a member of the Bignoniaceae family.

Ironwood

Lignum vitae or ironwood (Guaiacum sanctum) is the national tree of the Bahamas. Its wood is among the hardest known, and so it is an ideal choice for the manufacture of products like bearings. Today, the ironwood is an endangered species due to extensive logging in earlier years. Lignum vitae trees have been found close to 1,000 years old, according to the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center. The ironwood is a member of the Zygophyllaceae family.

Bahamas / Bahama Buttercup

The Bahamas, or Bahama buttercup (Turnera ulmifolia), is a fast-growing perennial small shrub. Its yellow blooms flower steadily year-round. However, they are shortlived and last just a day or so. The Bahamas buttercup provides treatment for constipation and diarrhea, among other medical conditions, according to the Ardastra Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Center. It is also toxic to mosquito larvae. The Bahamas buttercup is a member of the Turneraceae family.

Marlberry

The marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides) features fragrant white flowers that bloom in the fall. An abundance of berries follows in the winter. The berries are not especially palatable to humans, but birds favor them. This shrub or small tree grows to a height of between 12 and 20 feet. It has glossy, green leaves on alternate sides of the twig. The marlberry is native to the Caribbean and to Florida. It is a member of the Myrsinaceae family.

Keywords: Bahamas buttercup, marlberry Ardisia escallonioides, Lignum vitae

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Maureen Katemopoulos has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years. Her articles on travel, the arts, cuisine and history have appeared in publications such as "Stanislaus Magazine," "Orientations," "The Asia Magazine" and "The Peninsula Group Magazine." She holds a Baccalaureate degree in journalism from Stanford University.

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