Haiti-haiti flower (Thespesia populnea)

This is the beautiful flower of a common beachside bush (Thespesia populnea) called the haiti-haiti tree here on St. Croix, also known as seaside mahoe, portia tree, and often mistakenly called beach hibiscus. *

Haiti-haiti flower - 2009

Haiti-haiti flower - 2009

Despite the common name sometimes used, the beach hibiscus is actually a different plant (Hibiscus tiliaceus). Still, the flower does look hibiscus-like. I was attracted by the filmy, creamy translucence of the off-white petals when the flower is fully opened.

While the short-lived flowers are beautiful, the tree itself is scrubby with multiple woody stems. Invasive and salt-tolerant, it can quickly dominate a shoreline. The fruits or seedpods are a favorite of the local bright red love bugs, one of which is featured in my gravatar. More on those guys later!

*Thanks to Carol Cramer-Burke at the St. Croix Environmental Association for pointing me in the right direction on the facts here.

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2 Comments on “Haiti-haiti flower (Thespesia populnea)

  1. Now I know the local name. I’ve always noticed this tree along the beach at Cane Bay and also called it a hibiscus.
    And those love bugs!
    I call those push me- pull yous’.

    The singular images are really good Don. I like this one a lot as I did the beach chair.
    The way it focuses your eye on the solitary subject.
    Could be the birth of a series?

  2. A series? Now there’s my problem… Every time I come home with a bunch of new images there’s something in them that could give birth to a new series! I feel a little like a person with too many children to take care of.
    With so much inspiring material around, focusing on just one set of subjects takes discipline. Of course, there are a few that I return to from time to time: the shoreline, Fort Christianvaern (one of our most photogenic buildings), local plants and flowers. So over time, several series are developing so that I should be able to show a coherent body of work.

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