Spring brings fresh breezes, bright blue skies and rising temperatures. But one must not overlook what Nature has in store for our pleasure:
There are four spectacular tree species that can be spotted all over as we welcome spring back to the Bahía de Banderas.
Orchid Trees, Arbol de las Orquideas, have fragrant flowers of magenta and lavender with five overlapping petals and bloom from February to April. While the flowers resemble orchids, it is not a member of the orchid family but the pea family [Leguminosae]. In Mexico, it may be called Pata de Vaca [“cow’s foot” because the petals are shaped like a cow’s hoof.] It is also known as Butterfly Tree. Bauhinias can grow up to 8m and are deciduous, with around 200 varieties. Once the flowers have finished blooming, long seed pods are produced. Allow the pods to dry, thus ripening the seeds inside, germinate wrapped in damp paper towels, then plant in a tray with bottom holes for drainage or a small pot filled with good garden loam.
Llamarada or Spathodea
Impossible to miss are the huge bright orange clusters of flowers of the Llamarada, [also listed as Spathodea] known as Flame of the Forest, Pichkari, Nandi Flame or African Tulip Tree. Individual cup-shaped blossoms resemble tulips. Though not a spring bulb, a most impressive spring flowering tree. Native to the tropical dry forests of Africa, one can see why it thrives here. It grows up to 25m. The wood is soft and favored by hole-digging and -building birds.
Primaveras [Tabebuia cassinoides], also known as Ipe or Trumpet Tree, bloom after the pink Amapa. The 3 to 11cm wide blossoms may remind one of petunias. Seed-containing pods grow quite long, split sending seeds into the wind. The trees grow up to 50m and are deciduous in the dry season. Bees and hummingbirds enjoy as honey trees for its nectar. Traditionally used by indigenous Amazons for making hunting bows, it is known also as “Pau d’arco” [bow stick].
The Amapa tree [Tabebuia impetiginosa] blooms before the foliage [it is deciduous] with tubular soft pink blossoms also called Pink Ipe, Pink Lapacho, Lapacho Negro and Taheebo. The species has been used medicinally especially as a tea, growing all through Mexico down to northern Argentina with heights reaching 30m. The seeds are winged and dispersed by the wind like little butterflies.
Not only stunning in springtime, both Amapa and Primavera provide excellent wood for fine furniture making, being termite resistant. Amapa wood is obscura [dark] while Primavera is madera blanca [light colored].
Enjoy these fleeting spring flowers as many prepare to head back to the cold North and a new cascade of spring blooms.