The Caribbean is known worldwide for being one of the most stunningly biodiverse habitats of the globe. Within this regional cornucopia of species, there is a flower whose beauty stands above the rest, inspiring never-ending discussion and praise: The Flor de Maga. Flor de Maga, or Thespesia grandiflora is the national flower of Puerto Rico, and is hailed as one of the great symbols of the country. Get ready for the most important facts about this iconic, highly symbolic Caribbean plant!
Is Flor de Maga the Same as a Hibiscus?
The Flor de Maga is sometimes called the Puerto Rican Hibiscus; does this make it a hibiscus plant? Although they are often confused due to their strikingly similar appearance, the Hibiscus and Flor de Magas are different species of plant. Which is really the national flower of Puerto Rico? Though they both belong to the Malvaceae family, the truth is that they belong to totally different genera, subgenera and species, making them genetically more distant than you’d think. Although their similar leaves and color often generate confusion, the Flor de Maga, the true national flower of Puerto Rico, and the Hibiscus flower have notable differences between them! Read further to find out more.
Flor de Maga vs. Hibiscus
We know that both flowers have distinguishing factors and traits. To help the curious better understand this, we have compiled a comparative table with the most notable differentiating features that exist between the two species!
Flor de Maga
Now, it's not a competition between two beautiful flowers, don't get it wrong! But you can pick your favorite anyway. Let's find out if it's Flor de Maga!
- Family: Malvaceae
- Genus: Thespesia
- Species: T. grandiflora
Flor de Maga grows from 10 to 5 meters in the tree that bears the same name. It has a red and pink pigmentation, with 5 large heart-shaped leaves, overlapping each other. Inside its yellow pistil are its seeds, which are spread as a part of the pollination process by insects and animals, often including small bats!
Flor de Maga has mainly ornamental uses, as this is a protected species! A true national treasure.
Origins and Geographic Distribution
Maga is native to Puerto Rico, especially in the eastern and central regions of the island. Today, it has spread to practically all of the Caribbean, excluding the Lesser Antilles, where the accumulation of saltpeter stunts and prevents its growth. This beautiful plant is particularly common in southern Florida and Honduras.
Flor de Maga has many cute names. Flower of Pride, Maga Colorada, Puerto Rican hibiscus, Flower of the Sun, "Maga"… Sweet, isn't it?
A true gift of nature! Congratulations, lucky Puerto Rico.
You might have heard little of Flor de Maga, however, chances are, you heard a lot about Hibiscus. Let's see if we prepared some facts you don't know!
- Family: Malvaceae
- Genus: Malvoideae
- Species: Hibisceae
The Hibiscus flower grows on somewhat tall bushes. It can bloom in different colors, which often leads to it having different mythological values in different cultures, depending on its bloom. Although it, like the Flor de Maga, has 5 petals, they are different in that they are trumpet-shaped. Since it does not require a tree to mature, the hibiscus flower can take 6 to 24 months to bloom.
The hibiscus flower contains antioxidants, calcium, potassium, magnesium, as well as vitamins A, B and C. It has healing, digestive and antidiarrheal properties.
Origins and Geographic Distribution
This flower is native to the tropical regions of Asia, although scholars do not rule out that it could have originated in African jungles. Presently, its main cultivation is in China and Thailand, although it can be found practically all over the world, including America and the Caribbean.
Jamaican Rose, Kissing flower, Cardinal flower, Pacific flower… These are all the beautiful names for Hibiscus. Got a favorite?
We hope Hibiscus managed to surprise you!
Interesting Facts about the National Flower of Puerto Rico
For citizens of the island nation, as well as the Latin and Hispanic world, the Puerto Rican national flower is more than just a species of flower. For the whole of the Latin American world, this species is a symbol of beauty, but why is this so? Here are some aspects to highlight.
Proper coverage of the Flor de Maga’s symbolism is crucial to understanding the importance of this flower for Puerto Ricans. This flower represents the bravery of its people, in the defense of their land throughout the years. Thanks to its bright colors and the fact that it remains in bloom practically all year long, it is believed to represent the vivid joy and vigor of the Puerto Rican people themselves.
Characteristics of the Plant
Some people like to listen to music while reading the music notes. When looking at plants, it is useful to appreciate their beauty by noting defining physical characteristics and forms! Here are just a few around the Flor de Maga:
- This Puerto Rican has up to 5 overlapping red petals, which make use of pink pigmentation.
- Although not at all common, the diameter of its blossom has been reported reaching up to 20 centimeters.
- As mentioned above, this flower is born in the bosom of the tree of the same name, reaching heights of up to 15 meters.
- It has a long yellow pistil, from which also sprout numerous filaments upon its tip, or ‘stigma’.
Feeling at school yet?
Being the flower of the State of Puerto Rico, its uses are limited as a consequence of its legal recognition as a national flower under Law Num 87-2019 of August 1, 2019. Despite this, there are some factors that are presented below:
- The Flor de Maga has mainly decorative functions and can be grown as an ornamental plant.
- The Maga tree has great indoor potential, thanks to its beautiful maple-colored wood, as well as the great ease with which it can be shaped and trimmed.
- Its wood has inspired generations of Puerto Rican artisans, and it is not uncommon to get musical instruments, furniture, and handicrafts made from the wood of this tree on the island.
- It is believed that the leaf of the Maga tree has efficient cicatricial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Nature is generous to her children. Some of them are clear favorites though!
Growth and Care
For those who intend to own and care for a specimen of this Puerto Rican flower, it is important to always keep in mind that this species requires special environmental conditions if it is to thrive happily outside of its natural environment. To understand all the maintenance requirements, you can visit the Flor de Maga page on our website and our app. PlantIn gives you access to useful tools, such as a plant indicator, tips and special care plans. Should you have a problem and your plant is struggling, struggle no longer! You can write to our botanical experts day or night for a speedy, human response.
More Interesting Facts about the National Puerto Rican Flower
For many years, this flower was called the "Puerto Rican Hibiscus," ignoring, as we have covered, that they are distinct plants. Don’t know a plant by its nickname! For a long time the poppy was considered the flower of Puerto Rico, though eventually it was discovered that none of the specimens of the poppy species were native to the country, and thus the poppy was disqualified from its status! While the Maga was once used widely to make natural dyes due to its high density of soluble pigmentation, these have been phased out of marketplaces as synthetic dyes have grown in popularity.
Additionally, its official name ‘Thespesia grandiflora’ has Greek origins, meaning "large and splendid flower". What a perfect name to give it! Just as nature captivates us with her beauty, so too does the Flor de Maga earn frontstage to shine. It is fitting that this flower, with its panache and grace, was chosen by the Puerto Rican people, now considered an emblem of the charisma and virtue typical of this Caribbean country.
Puerto Rico is rightfully proud of their beautiful Flor de Maga. Long live the cultures that respect their nature and understand its worth! Let Puerto Rico be an inspiration for us all.
What Is the National Tree of Puerto Rico?
The national tree of Puerto Rico is the Ceiba pentandra. Also known only as "ceiba", it can reach up to 77 meters in height. This tree can be found in practically all of the Caribbean and several tropical regions of Africa.
Is the Hibiscus the National Flower of Puerto Rico?
No. Although they have clear similarities between them (the Flor de Maga is even nicknamed Puerto Rican hibiscus’ in some places!) both the Flor de Maga and the Hibiscus are two distinct flowers.
Is Poppy (Amapola) the Flower of Puerto Rico?
No. Although some locals may call the Maga a ‘poppy’ after its weedy red lookalike, the poppy is not native to Puerto Rico. This led to the designation of the Flor de Maga as the national symbol.
What Is the Most Famous Flower of Puerto Rico?
Because of its historical importance and the high cultural value given to it in this country, the Flor de Maga is undoubtedly the emblematic flower of Puerto Rico. However, others such as the hibiscus, the coral flower and the poppy are widely known in the country.