Flame Tree

Embruns

CMwofqeVAAEGFqDFlame trees (les flamboyants) have become somewhat ubiquitous in New Caledonia. They are, however, exotic plants, native to Madagascar. They arrived in New Caledonia with the first Reunionese settlers who disembarked in the early 1860s. A sugar crisis in Reunion, France’s previously booming sugar island in the Indian Ocean, forced large numbers of people who had relied on the sugar industry for their livelihoods to migrate to France’s newest colony in the Pacific. There they would help set up New Caledonia’s sugar industry, bringing their expertise and equipment (sugar processing machinery in parts that they would put back together on arrival). They also brought seeds, plants, foodstuffs, recipes, language, songs, customs etc. from Reunion to New Caledonia.

Curiously, the 19th century Reunionese migration to New Caledonia was little known. History books mentioned the arrival of a few rich, white, sugar planters and Indian “coolies” who had come expressly for the production…

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