Tecoma Stans - The yellow elder flower is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 20 feet in height. Other common names for this shrub are the Yellow Trumpet bush, Yellow bells and the ginger Thomas, here in the Bahamas we know it as the Yellow Elder and it is our National Flower.
The flower has been overlooked for years in its usage as a medicinal aid. Those who have found its uses have published information on the usefulness of this plant but it has been overlooked by many Bahamians.
1 - The most widely know use for the plant is as a vermifuge. This means the plant extracts are used to expel any parasitic worms from the body. In the 70's and early 80' stomach worms were common among many young Bahamians, those who knew this treatment used the flower to help get rid of any worms.
2 - The plant is used as a diuretic which means for those persons who may have high blood pressure buy boiling and drinking the extracts from the plant it causes the body to get rid of any excess water and salt thus it can also be said that it regulates high blood pressure.
3 - It is used as a tonic to help restore balance withing the body
4 - It is instrumental in the production of anti syphilis drugs
5 - Helps regulate any digestive problems by boiling and drinking the extract of the leaves and bark
6 - Restricts the growth and spread of a specific yeast infection known as Candida albicans
7 - Acts as cat-nip for cats which means upon further studies of this plant there can be even more medicinal uses for it.
A little unknown fact, although this tree is very attractive to many insects the honey made from the pollen of the yellow elder flower can actually be poisonous to humans.
During the transition of power to the people in the 1970’s the Bahamas was on the verge of Independence from Britain, because of this the country needed national symbols. At this time there were four major garden clubs in the country. The International Garden Club, the YWCA Garden Club, The Carver Garden Club and the Nassau Garden Club. The members of these clubs where given the task to come together and decide on a flower that can be named the National Flower of the Bahamas. In the running were flowers that were grown in the Bahamas such as the Hibiscus, the Bougainvillea, Poinciana flower and the Yellow elder Flower. Because the Hibiscus, Bougainvillea and Poinciana flowers were already National Flowers of other countries the our elder won by default.
The yellow elder flower was originally cultivated to be an ornamental tree as it is easy to maintain and prune to beautify any yard. The tree has long lance like leaves and bear clusters of yellow flowers that all have a thin red line running inside of them before they bloom the tree produces a bud that can make a popping sound if squeezed. The flowers bloom in clusters of about five and are trumpet like in shape which is extremely attractive to bees, hummingbirds and other insects. The plant is also drought proof as it depends on strong sunlight to survive It fully blooms in the Fall but blooms can be seen on the tree throughout the year.
The Yellow Elder is also the State Flower of United States Virgin Islands.