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Travel at Home: Family Crafts with the Caribbean Giving Tree

by Dannielle Kyrillos

Flamboyant pods from St. Croix at home in Manhattan.

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Flamboyant trees (also called royal poinciana) are so called because every summer, when it's really dry and brown and kind of barren on St. Croix, they absolutely explode with flamboyantly colored blooms of red, orange, and yellow — one color per tree.

Some people claim that they are the world's brightest tree. I have a home in St. Croix and have been watching the natural phenomenon for years now, and I wholeheartedly agree. Flamboyant trees are truly a riot of color, so outrageously bright and beautiful, appearing just when the hot, dry summer would otherwise be getting you down.

Late autumn, just before Christmas, is their seed season, when the blooms have disappeared and their big, long, hockey-stick-like seed pods have dried to brown.

Making painted flamboyant tree pods, a great family craft.

Some friends who own a restaurant on the island wanted to give everyone they knew a meaningful gift but didn't have a lot of money to spend. So they yanked down as many flamboyant seed pods as they could find and spent an afternoon painting a pod for each recipient. The results were beloved island-wide, and Christmas trees and wreaths everywhere bore these special new ornaments.

A tradition was born, and we love carrying it forth. Painted pods are fun to make into door hangers, ornaments, bookshelf decorations, or whatever your imagination decides is a lovely little reminder of the joy of island living.

Flamboyant Pods

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