3rd Sunday of Easter (C)
April 26, 2022
On Synod fatigue
April 26, 2022

Easter in the white poui tree

Story and photos by Lara Pickford-Gordon

On the afternoon of March 19 while going into MovieTowne, my attention was captured by a tree. It took a couple seconds to process that it was a poui tree: a white poui tree.

I had a camera with me that day and had to take photos as it was striking. Upon closer look, it seemed as if there was some pink in the petals of the flowers. Was it a pink poui that turned white due to environmental stress?

I contacted The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Herbarium with a few questions about this phenomenon.

Dr J Francisco Morales, Curator, National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago, Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology stated, “the air pollution or carbon monoxide is not a factor that changed the colour of the flower. It is determined by genes.”

The colour was a “simple variation. The same variation is found in other families of flowering plants. Sometimes [it] is related to the soil.”

He explained that although the white poui is a variation of the pink, it is not common in Trinidad and Tobago but other countries where “you can see a wide range of variation from deep pink to almost white”.

Dr Morales said the poui tree commonly blossoms during the dry season for less than two weeks, usually one. The trees are distributed around the country.

The poui trees belong to the family Bignoniaceae, widespread in South America. The habitat for the yellow poui, Tabebuia chrysantha (Jacq) GNicholson is the evergreen, semi-evergreen, and seasonal forests, in woods in drier areas in Tobago. The yellow poui tree is called ‘yellow trumpet tree’ because of the shape of the flowers.

Dr Morales said the tree can be found in the Greater Antilles, Virgin Islands, Lesser Antilles, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

According to Wikipedia, the yellow poui is the national tree of Venezuela and is known as araguaney; it is known as guayacán in Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, tajibo in Bolivia, and as ipê-amarelo in Brazil.

Another yellow poui is the Tabebuia serratifolia (Vahl) GNicholson. The habitat for this tree is littoral to evergreen, semi-evergreen, and deciduous seasonal forests.

It is occasionally in lower montane and on limestone in seasonal montane forests and fire-cult subclimax savannahs, and rare in lowland and lower montane forests. A montane forest is an ecosystem found on the slopes of mountains, high altitudes.

This type of poui is found in the Lesser Antilles, United States (Florida), Colombia, Venezuela, Guianas, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia. The Tabebuia rosea (Bertol) DC (pink to white flowers) can be cultivated everywhere.

“This plant is native from dry forest; therefore, it grows everywhere,” Dr Morales said.

I did not expect to see another white poui tree but about a week or two later, I was surprised while travelling to Port of Spain to see on Wrightson Road, just before Sackville Street, a pink poui, had turned white.

I thought about the colour symbolism as we celebrate Easter. Pink may represent joy and happiness and white: light, purity, glory and joy, the Resurrection.

One website stated yellow symbolised light and the presence of God, renewal, and hope, particularly in the Resurrection of Jesus.

It is a marvel of nature that beautiful things can thrive in arid times and so can we, believers in the Risen Christ.