National Symbols of Saint Lucia
The Amazona Versicolor more popularly known as the Saint Lucian Parrot is a beautiful bird of red, green, blue, and yellow feathers found only in Saint Lucia, mainly in the rain forest. In 1975 there were only about 100 parrots in the wild, but with the help of an island-wide educational programme, and a breeding programme by the Jersey Wildlife Protection Trust in 1979, the number has more than tripled. The parrot was designated the National Bird in 1979 on Independence.
The calabash tree grows to about 30 feet and has long twisted hanging branches, with small evergreen flowers clustered at the nodes. In Saint Lucia, the tree is famous for its hard-shelled spherical nut which can grow to about 20 inches in diameter. When its soft white pulp is removed, the shell is used as storage and water containers, bowls, cups and musical instruments. Although the tree is not indigenous to Saint Lucia it was designated the national tree on Independence in 1979.
The bamboo is a woody perennial evergreen grass found in the forest, particularly in the rainforest. It is the world’s fastest growing plant and can grow at the rate of 20 inches a day and up to 10 meters high. Bamboo is used to make baskets, furniture, tableware, lampshades and other ornaments and utensils. The trunk is also used by the local fishermen to make fish pots.
The last two flowers (rose and marguerite) are the names of two cultural flower festivals: La Marguerite and La Rose. These two rival singing societies mimic a small kingdom, remnants of the colonial past, including the King and all royalty. They each have a patron saint and hold an annual festival on that feast day. La Rose is celebrated on August 30, the Feast of St Rose de Lima; La Marguerite is celebrated on October 17, Feast of St Margaret. These are both national festivals and are very colourful and elaborate, with all the hierarchy in the colonial society depicted. On the feast day there is a church service followed by celebrations, parade in the streets and an evening banquet. Their songs and dances show the rivalry and competition between each other.