Flora of Abaco
Part Two
Pitch apple tree ClusiaRosea
In summer, the showy, pink and
white, two to three-inch flowers appear at night and sometimes remain open all morning on overcast days. They appear near the branch tips and are followed by a fleshy, light green, poisonous fruit, three inches in
diameter. These persistent fruits turn black when ripe and split open, revealing bright red seeds surrounded by a black, resinous material. The seeds are very attractive to birds and other wildlife and they germinate readily in the landscape and surrounding areas. The black material surrounding these seeds was once used to caulk the seams of boats, hence its common name
Poisonwood Metopium toxiferum

Poisonwood, also known as Florida poisontree or hog gum, is related to poison sumac and poison oak, all members of the cashew or sumac (Anacardiaceae) family. This beautiful tree grows abundantly in the Keys and can also be found in various ecosystems in southern Florida. Its range in tropical America extends from Florida to the Bahamas, Honduras, and the West Indies. The sap contains alkaloids that cause serious skin and mucus irritations after skin contact. Any part of the tree may carry the sap so handling any part of the poisonwood should be avoided. If you live or work in south Florida the ability to recognize and identify poisonwood is beneficial. You can find poisonwood inhabiting hammocks, pinelands, and sandy dunes near salt water.
Powder Puff Tree Calliandra haematocephala

The red powderpuff is native to Bolivia. The genus takes its name from the flowers which are small and mostly composed of long extravagant stamens, but aggregated into spherical inflorescences. Calliandra is built from the Greek kalos meaning beautiful and andros meaning male, a reference to the pollen bearing floral parts. The species epithet is composed of haimatos "blood" and cephala "head" referring to the large red clusters of flowers.
Purslane Portulaca oleracea

Purslane is a good edible and is eaten throughout much of Europe and Asia. It can be eaten fresh or cooked and has no bitter taste at all. Since it has a mucilaginous quality it is great for soups and stews.
Railroad Vine Ipomoea pes-caprae

The Carib Indians used railroad vine in ritual baths to alleviate evil spells. The juice from the succulent leaves has been used as a first aid to treat jellyfish stings.
Red Mangrove Rhizophora mangle

Mangroves serve as feeding, breeding, and nursery grounds for a variety of fish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife. Mangroves also produce 3.6 tons per acre of leaf litter per year which benefit estuarine food chains. An estimated 75% of the game fish and 90% of the commercial species in south Florida depend on the mangrove system.
Royal Poinciana Delonix regia

Royal poinciana (so named because it used to be in the genus, Poinciana) is a flamboyant tree in flower - some say the world's most colorful tree.
Sapodilla (wild dilly)  Manilkara bahamensis

The bark and branches, when injured, bleed a white latex which is the source of chicle, the original base for chewing gum.
Satinwood Chloroxylon swietenia

The timber is very lasting and is largely used in veneering. The tree also yields a gum. Two outbreaks of dermatitis occurred in cabinet-makers working with East Indian satinwood
Sea Grape Coccoloba uvifera L

Seagrape is highly tolerant of salt spray and salty soils as well as strong sun and wind. It is often planted as a windbreak near beaches.
The fruits are edible raw and are made into "seaside jelly" or wine. In the West Indies, they boil the wood to yield a red dye. Wood from larger trees is prized for cabinet work. A gum from the bark is used for throat ailments, and the roots are used to treat dysentery.
Sea Oats Uniola paniculata

Extremely salt tolerant, sea oats is often used in dune stabilization programs because its extensive system of underground stems and roots helps reduce erosion. The dried and cooked seeds are said to make a flavorful cereal. The mature seedheads are very decorative and commonly used in dried floral arrangements. Wild sea oats is protected in Florida and Georgia (and probably other states as well), not because it is endangered or threatened, but because it performs a valuable ecological service by stabilizing sand dunes. It is unlawful to pick wild sea oats (even the seeds), but you can buy the plants or the seeds from native plant nurseries who have permits to propagate protected species.
Sea Purslane Sesuvium portulacastrum

Prostrate, mat forming, herbaceous perennial with opposite, fleshy, red tinged leaves that can be up to 2 inches long and .5 inches wide. The tiny pinkish purple flowers are solitary in the leaf axils and bloom all year. Its natural habitat is tropical and subtropical coastal shorelines throughout the world. Sea Purslane is an important dune stabilizer on many beaches.
Medicinally this plant has been used to treat scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency and is sold in Asia as a vegetable. In the Caribbean, the leaves are pulverized and used to soothe puncture wounds caused by venomous fish.
Seaside mahoe (Malvaceae) Hibiscus pernambucensis

Seaside mahoe is also
known as sea hibiscus and rope mangrove in English, emajagua and majagua in Spanish, and mahoe doux, mahaut, and bois flot in French
Seven Year Apple Genipa clusiifolia

Seven-year apple originates from coastal uplands in the South Florida/Caribbean area. It has high salt- and drought-tolerance. Fruits develop slowly over the course of one year, not seven
Shell Ginger Alpinia zerumbet

Many plants in the ginger family have culinary or medicinal uses. This ginger is not commonly used that way but the leaves and roots do contain the chemicals kavain and dehydrokavain, similar to the kava plant (Piper methysticum) which is known for its relaxing properties. The ground leaves of Alpinia zerumbet have been sold as both an anti-hypertension and anti-stress medication.
Silver palm coccothrinax proctorii

A very pretty palm with a slender trunk and an open crown of deeply divided leaves with thin segments, dark green above and silvery white below. It is a slow but reliable grower and, with its small overall size, it will find room in any garden.
Strongbark  Bourreria succulenta

Fragrant flowers attract a steady stream of pollinators.  Birds enjoy the brightly colored fruit
Sweet Bay (Bay Geranium) Ambrosia hispida

Used in Bush Medicine: Can be made into soap and used to relieve itching skin. Recommended for indigestion and cleaning of the lungs and mainly used to cure the common cold in the form of a strong tea with lime and salt.
Tabebuia tree (trumpet tree, Tacoma) Tabebuia ochracea

Tabebuia are best known for their spectacular "mass blooms" where all trees in an area flower together within a few days of each other. The yellow flowers attract bees that carry pollen from one tree to the next.
Thatch palm Thrinax excelsa

Native, Slow growing
Turk’s Cap Malvaviscus arboreus

It attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and moths
West Indian Sea Lavender Mallotonia gnaphalodes 

The sea-lavender, Mallotonia gnaphalodes is very rare in nature, but exhibits many desirable landscape characteristics.
White Mangrove Laguncularia racemosa

Bush Medicine Uses:
treating dysentery
White sapote Casimiroa edulis

Fruits are excellent when eaten ripe. Unripe fruits have a bitter taste, and flesh very near the skin can sometimes have a bitter taste. Usually the flesh is scooped out with a spoon and eaten raw.
Wild Sage (Lantana)
Lantana involucrata L

Used to make bush-tea and an aromatic bush bath.  In some areas it is used in a tonic for colic and applied externally for insect stings and snake bites.
Wild tamarind Lysiloma bahamensis

Panel for plywood to export, furniture,molding, musical instruments, boat decks and coverings,fine carpentry,
interiors, parts of mills and crafts.
Yellow Elder Tecoma stans

The National Flower of the Bahamas
I wish to acknowledge the following web sites that I researched for this article: eNature, Dr. Gerald Carr, Ashrubs of the Bahamas, Govardhan Gardens, Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, Plant Creations, placenciabreeze, Prometheus Unplugged, Bahamas Bush Medicine, Botanical .com, Field Guide to South Florida Ecosystem Preserve, University of Miami Department of Biology, and Google.

The medicinial uses and herb uses listed here,are only for informational purposes.  I do not recommend actually using these plants for what bush medicine, herbalists and others say.  My intention is to allow you, the user, to be able to identify common Abaco plants and appreciate them solely for their beauty.

I also would like to thank two Bahamians: Jack Patterson (now deceased), author of a wonderful reference, "Trees of the Bahamas," and my neighbor, Donny Carey, who has a wonderful knowledge of the plants of his native country, and who  provided me with valued information and sparked my interest in finding out more about Bahamian plants.

Iris Spikes