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Kibrahacha Tree - Tabebuia Billbergi

The Kibrahacha tree (Tabebuia Billbergi) also known as Yellow Poui, is a very special tree found in Bonaire and the neighboring ABC islands. Once in awhile after just the right conditions, this tree will bloom the most beautiful yellow flowers.

kibrahacha tree

The yellow of the blooming flowers is so striking that it even inspired the national flag of Bonaire. The flag’s upper left corner has a band of yellow which represents the sun and flowers of the island, which is a particular reference to the yellow flowers generated by the Kibrahacha tree. This tree is a native tree in Bonaire and Bonarians often say that when its flowers bloom it brings luck.

kibrahacha tree
The wood of this tree is exceptionally hard the word Kibrahacha directly translates to “break” “axe”. The tree can grow up to ten metres high, enjoys sunlight and can grow on both limestone soil and diabase or dolerite.

kibrahacha tree
What’s very special about this tree’s bloom is that it requires long periods of drought before it has a chance to shine. It is normally a very drab looking tree, but after a length of drought and the second rainfall, the trees will usually bloom into their wonderful yellow colors. This is sadly short lived as after a period of a few days it will shed all its leaves leaving the traces of its former bloom carpeted on the floor or nearby cacti!

This short-lived bloom becomes a beacon for some of the other wildlife species on Bonaire. Hummingbirds, Bees and even Bananaquits are some of the wildlife you will see flock to its flowers to feed on the Kibrahacha’s nectar.

kibrahacha tree
What makes this bloom very special is that it is not guaranteed each year. If the tree gets small amounts of rain constantly it won’t show its true colors. It requires an extended period of drought with just the right amount of rainfall which means, once they bloom, try appreciate the little gem of nature before it swiftly disappears.

Bourreria succulenta - Watakeli

Bourreria succulenta

Common name: Watakeli, Bahama Strongbark

Height: 7 to 8 metres

Features: Abundant fragrant white flowers, orange/red berries, drooping branches that if unmaintained come back to ground level.

Bourreria succulenta Berries

Bourreria succulenta Flowers

Propagation: Very difficult from seed but finding volunteers around base or digging out suckers.

Growing: Once established doesn't need much water.

Location: A largish tree so give it space but put it somewhere you can see as it attracts so much wildlife.  Maybe not above gravel as it drops so many berries.

Bourreria succulenta Bark

This is such an underrated tree.  It is one of the trees that grows naturally on Bonaire and it is extremely drought tolerant.  It has beautiful dark green foliage (when it has water) and blooms profusely a few times a year which attracts a whole host of pollinators and birds. The flowers smell delicious. On Bonaire these include bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Afterwards the berries provide food for many birds including the Bonaire Yellow Shouldered Amazon Parrot if you’re lucky!  It also has arching branches and makes a great shade tree to sit under.

Watakeli with Prikichi

Haematoxylon brasiletto - Brazil tree

Haematoxylon brasiletto

Common name: Palu di brasil, Brazil, Brazia, Stokvishout, Dyewood, Verfhout
Height: 4 to 5 metres
Features: A rather small tree with strikingly deep grooves in te stem. The branches carry heavy thorns and the leaves are innate and roundish. In the dry time the tree drops the leaves and in this period the trees flowers.

haematoxylon brasiletto tree

Propagation: Important to catch the seedpods before the winds blows them away. Easy to propagate 
Growing: The Haematoxylon brasiletto is able to grow in all areas of the island and is draught resistant once established
Location: All areas

haematoxylon brasiletto seedlings

Brazil tree locally called “Palu di brasil”. The dyewood, or Brazil wood tree (Haematoxylon brasiletto), has a distinctive, twisted shape and a deeply grooved trunk. These trees played an important role in the early history of Bonaire. In fact, the oldest known map of the Caribbean (from 1513) labels the island as "Ysla do Brasil" ("Island of the Brazil tree"). A red dye was extracted from the wood and used for coloring fabrics.

haematoxylon brasiletto flowers

The Dutch seized Bonaire from the Spanish in 1636 in part to gain access to this commercially profitable product. In former centuries the wood was used to prepare a red dye. The wood was shipped to Holland where it was rasped in the “rasp house” to extract the dye which was then used to colour cloth, hence the name Dyewood.

The timber was also used to make bows for stringed instruments

Seed Pods of the Haematoxylon brasiletto