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Plants & Flowers of the Caribbean

bird of paradise image by Earl Robbins from

In the Caribbean islands, the landscaping around most hotels is neatly designed with tropical plants and flowers. Beyond, into the natural growth of this area, the lushness is almost mind boggling. The plants and flowers in the Caribbean grow three times faster than in more temperate climate locations. There are exquisite orchids, hundreds of types of palms and the colorful bird of paradise. The house plant, commonly called Mother-in-law’s Tongue, is found in the natural outdoor setting as well.

Bird of Paradise

Found in orange and white, the bird of paradise first originated in South Africa. It grows naturally in the Caribbean and other tropical and subtropical locations. The plant has a large white bloom with a hint of a blue tinge and grows up to 15 feet. The-orange bloomed plant matures to only about 5 feet. They grow in the Caribbean's natural habitat, and are also used in landscaping and flower design.

Coconut Palm

The coconut palm is the palm most often seen in island movies. It can be found in many of the Caribbean islands and Florida. There are actually two different groups of the coconut palm: niu kafa and niu vai. The niu kafa has a more angular-shaped fruit, with a thick husk and thin flesh. The niu vai is oppositely adorned with a thin husk and thick flesh, but is spherical in shape. This tree is the most valuable of all the palms, commercially speaking. The coconut fruit is sold fresh, as well as dried and shredded. The fruit is also used to form coconut oil for soap and margarine. The trees husks are popular in compost use and woven into matting.

Crab Claws

The crab’s claw is sometimes referred to as the wild banana. This is because the leaves are shaped like paddles, much like the banana tree. The red-orange, yellow tipped flower holders, called bracts, remind viewers of crab claws, hence the name. This shrub grows wild in the Caribbean, however, you will also see it in landscaping of the area and floral arrangements. There are more than 40 species in the Caribbean area, with different sized bracts and varying colors of orange, red-orange and yellow.

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