National Flower

The Soufriere Tree (Spachea Perforatais) is a member of a fairly well represented family of  the tropical floras, namely MALPIGHIACEAE. Other well-known members are common Barbados Cherry – malpighia punicifolia, and an attractive forest tree, the Shoemaker’s Bark or Bois-tan – Byromina spicata, whose abundant yellow flowers and dark green foliage render it quite conspicuous when in bloom. The family is otherwise represented as trees, shrubs and vines.

The Soufriere Tree was reported to have been collected on the volcano in 1804, i.e. before the 1812 eruption, by Dr. Alexander Anderson the Medical Officer and Curator of the Gardens. An old specimen of the tree is still to be found in the Gardens along with much younger trees. The tree air layers quite readily and will root from cuttings also; but both trees at the Gardens have never fronted or set seed even though they flower profusely and the flowers are bisexual.

The Soufriere tree is an untidy brancher with simple lanceolate leaves - about two inches to four inches long by one inch wide. The individual flower is small, but they are borne in profuse pendent racemes about two inches to three inches long, which are of a quite attractive pale pink hue.

The outstanding feature of the Soufriere tree is that it is a purely endemic species, known from Saint Vincent only and it has not been found in the wild since. Specimens were sent to few Gardens and a plant has been established in the Trinidad Botanic Gardens. Most plants in the Lesser Antilles are widely distributed, endemic species being relatively few, unlike in the Greater Antilles where they are far commoner.