For many people around the world, Christmas conjures up images of blankets of freshly fallen snow and the greenery of pine trees. In Saint Lucia though, the climate doesn’t change much year round; the waters remain crystal blue, the foliage is strikingly green and flowers still bloom in stunning displays.
Poinsettias and ‘snow on the mountains’ are the quintessential tropical Christmas flowers you will find on the island. Almost every household will set out potted poinsettias to add that special Christmas touch. In the garden the two plants can often be seen together, the taller poinsettia hovering over the shrub-like ‘snow on the mountains’ in a beautiful contrast – the large, brilliantly red leaves next to the smaller white petals.
The poinsettia isn’t the only crimson flower to flourish during the holiday season; anthuriums, hibiscuses and ginger lilies are blossoming as well. Found not only in bright reds, these flowers make the season more colourful.
It is not the flower of the anthurium that makes it so popular but the waxy spathe or modified leaf that interests floral enthusiasts, for this is the part of the plant that displays its variety of colours. The hibiscus is a versatile plant; the magenta sepals make a delicious herbal tea. Saint Lucians use hibiscus to brighten up their gardens. Ginger lilies certainly make a statement when these beautiful torch-like flowers are added to arrangements for decorating the home in the holiday season.
Another flower that blossoms during the festive season is the Christmas Candle, Latin name Senna alata. Found in Saint Lucia and Barbados, the long slender shape and vivid yellow render it the Caribbean’s natural version of a lighted Christmas candle. Interestingly, this plant has more practical uses – the leaves or sap can be used to treat fungal infections!