Trees & Vines of the Caribbean

Bush Medicine 101
These are some of the most common trees and vines. Many have curative, medicinal properties.

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Trees & Vines of the Caribbean

Because many trees in this climate grow constantly, their timber is not marked with clearly defined growth rings, resulting in a fine grain wood highly prized for furniture making and construction.

Mahogany is a classic example of a rain forest wood so sought-after that plantations of it have been cultivated on West Indian islands; the tree, however, is not native to the region. Today, it's hard to find an island that doesn't have mahogany of some sort growing on it.

  

Most of the other trees aren't as familiar as mahogany but they all have their uses.

Caribbean Trees
Names and Uses

African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata): Also called flame of the forest, this fiery red tree's unopened buds squirt water when pinched. A popular ornamental from Africa.

Almond Tree (Terminalia catappa): Recognized by its spreading horizontal branches, this tree grows to 30 feet. It has large leathery leaves that turn red before falling. Its fruit is edible.

Autograph Tree (Clusia rosea): A West Indian evergreen whose large thick leaves were used for playing cards and writing paper by early Spanish explorers. The wood is used in construction and its leaves, bark and fruit have medicinal qualities.

Balata (Manilkara bidentata): the fruit is edible, the latex is used for gum.

Balasa (Ochroma pyramidale): the seed floss is used for stuffing pillows.

Banyan Tree (Ficus benghalensis): Named for Hindu traders named Banyan, these huge evergreens have aerial roots that help support the branches.

Bay Rum (Amomis caryophyllata): the leaves are used for bay rum.

Black Mangrove (Avicennia nitida): the heartwood contains lapachol.

Black Sage (Cordia cylindrostachya): the leaves are steeped to treat coughs and colds.

Bois Bande (both Parinari campestris and Roupala montana ): the bark has aphrodisiac qualities. Known in Grenada as "man's best friend."

To Caribbean Trees & Vines Part 2
Calabash - Jumbie Bead

To Caribbean Trees & Vines Part 3
Lignum Vitae - Yellow Poui

To Caribbean Fruits & Vegetables
Bush Medicine 102

Return to Caribbean Flora & Fauna Homepage