During the months of March and April, a couple species of the Tecomeae tribe come out in their full regalia in Puerto Vallarta. The Tecomeae tribe, included in the Bignoniaceae family, has numerous genuses including the Tabebuia genus. The Tabebuia genus has more than 100 species of which the Vallarta area is proud to host the Tabebuia Impetiginosa and the Tabebuia Donnell-Smithii species.
Now that you’re totally confused and bored, let’s learn more about these two species and what bearing they have on Vallarta!
The Tabebuia genus is a group of hard wood trees that live in the tropical deciduous forests of Mexico as well as other regions throughout Central and South America. Those of the Impetiginosa specie are commonly known as Amapas trees while those of the Donnell-Smithii specie are known as Primavera trees.
Toward the end of Vallarta’s dry season, before their leaves appear, the Tabebuia trees virtually explode with their large and colorful blooms; the Amapas in a showy pink and the Primavera (Spanish for spring) in a brilliant yellow or gold. These native trees are absolutely awesome; being so large and brightly colored, that they can be seen on the Sierra Madre hillsides from miles away. They are so majestic and ornamental that they are commonly planted for decorating parks, promenades, and other public areas of significance. The springtime blossoms of these magnificent and protected trees in Vallarta always signal the approaching end to the seven month “high season”, during which the average daily temperature is 73°F with virtually no rain.
The wood from these two species of the Tecomeae tribe, along with the other Tabebuia species, is extremely hard, denser than water (it won’t float), is fireproof (having a fire rating equal to concrete at A1), is resistant to insects such as termites, and resists rot. Due to these properties, timber from the Tabebuia trees has been used for outdoor decking for many years. In fact, cities such as New York have standardized on this lumber for boardwalks along the beaches and even at Coney Island.
In Puerto Vallarta, we see most of the custom cabinets and window and door frames being fabricated from Amapas or Primavera wood. As long as it’s reasonably well protected, it’ll last forever in this tropical Paradise. Also, even though it’s very difficult to work with this lumber, another major use of Amapas and Primavera is in the fine furniture industry. Finally, since it is so hard, strong, and durable, its use for structural beams exposed to the summer weather in Vallarta is ideal as is its use for flooring, crates and boxes, wheels, and even boats.
Aside from their beauty and unique properties, certain Tabebuia species have been used for centuries in the production of medicinal products. The bark from some of these species of trees is dried, shredded, and then boiled to make a medicinal tea known as Lapacho or Taheebo. In various strengths and forms, Lapacho has been used as a remedy during the flu and cold season, for easing smoker’s cough, as an antibiotic, and a disinfectant. In fact, in the 1980´s, it was touted as having “almost unbelievable properties” and said to improve life for cancer and immunodepressed patients. Perhaps the folks at Pfizer, Merck, Schering Plough, etc. could learn a bit about nature’s remedies from the native Mexicans. On the other hand, these remedies just might be too cheap and effective for the drug companies to fool with!
Those that have visited the Vallarta area and those of us fortunate enough to live in this magnificent city are appreciative of the year round beauty that this part of the world has to offer. With bougainvilleas, hibiscus, and numerous other tropical plants constantly in bloom, there’s always a colorful array of flowers to be enjoyed. However, when springtime arrives, the Amapas and Primavera trees, many up to 60 feet tall, come into full bloom. In so doing, they truly steal the show; being so large and displaying such vivid, brilliant, and huge splashes of pink and gold along the roadside or on the hillside, that they’re quite conspicuous.
Invariably, when guests are visiting the area in the spring, regardless of whether they’re touring the city, playing golf, shopping the boutiques, or sightseeing in general, they’ll always inquire with “what kind of tree is that?” Those familiar with the area will immediately know, even without looking, that the visitor’s attention has been drawn to either an Amapas or a Primavera tree. Just imagine, the Sierra Madres surrounding the Banderas Bay with all their majestic palms and other tropical vegetation, and you can spot the picturesque Amapas and Primavera trees from miles away; truly a sight to behold.
In summarizing, Vallarta offers so much beauty at all times of the year, however to view the magnificent Tecomeae Tribe “strutting their stuff” in full regalia, you must visit the area in late March or early April. Oh yes, and when you come, don’t forget to bring your camera; you’ll have plenty of “photo ops” for these center stage attractions!