Barringtonia

BarringtoniaBarringtonia edulis (Lecythidaceae) Characteristics Small, evergreen tree. Seeds edible, sold in local markets, eaten raw or cooked, with a flavor like raw peanuts. Sometimes cultivated in home gardens and around villages. Distribution Native to Fiji. Natural Medical Properties No known. Did you know? Cut nut is related (same family) to the cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis).…

True Mangrove

True MangroveRhizophora sp. (Rhizophoraceae) Characteristics Rhizophora species generally live in intertidal zones which are inundated daily by the ocean. They exhibit a number of adaptations to this environments, including “pneumatophores” that elevate the plants above the water and allow them to respire oxygen even while their lower roots are submerged, and a cytological molecular “pump-mechanism”…

Curry Tree

Curry TreeMurraya Koenigii (Rutaceae) Characteristics Small tree, growing up to 6 m. Aromatic leaves, pinnate, with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long. Small white flowers which can self-pollinate. Fruit is a small, black drupe containing a single, large seed. The pulp is edible, with a sweet flavor. Distribution Native to the Indian subcontinent. It…

Pongamia

PongamiaMilletia pinnata (Fabaceae) Characteristics Tree, 15-25 m tall, with a large canopy. Leaves alternate. Flowers in clusters: white, purple and pink, blossoming throughout the year. The tree is well adapted to intense heat, sunlight and droughts. Root nodules promote nitrogen fixation (typical for Fabaceae – the bean family). Distribution Native to eastern and tropical Asia,…

Tatakia

TatakiaAcacia simplex (Fabaceae) Characteristics Perennial climbing tree, up to 12 m tall. Although it produces true leaves as a seedling, like most members of this section of the genus, the mature plant does not have true leaves but has leaf-like flattened stems called phyllodes. The Tatakia tree is abundant along sandy beaches and on the…

Taro

TaroColocasia esculenta (Araceae) Characteristics Perennial, tropical plant. Primarily grown as a root vegetable for its edible, starchy corm. Leaves up to 40×35 cm and sprout from the rhizome, dark green above and light green beneath, highly water-repellent. Taro is one of few crops (along with rice and lotus) that can be grown under flooded conditions.…

Giant Taro

Giant TaroAlocasia cf. macrorrhizos (Araceae) Characteristics Rhizomatous, evergreen, perennial herb, up to 4.5 m tall. Gigantic leaves (up to 180 x 120 cm), arrow-shaped at their bases and stand upright, pointing skyward (unlike the leaves of Colocasia which droop and point toward the ground). Flowers consist of a yellowish-green spathe and spadix. The plant performs…

Garden Croton

Garden CrotonCodiaeum variegatum (Euphorbiaceae) Characteristics Tropical, evergreen, monoecious (male and female flowers) shrub, up to 3 m tall. Leaves large, thick, leathery, shiny, alternate, 5-30 cm long and 0.5-8 cm wide, colored green, yellow or purple in various patterns, depending on the variety. When cut, the stems bleed a milky sap. Distribution Native to Indonesia,…

Palm Lily

Palm lilyCordyline fruticosa (Asparagaceae) Characteristics Evergreen, palm-like, woody plant, up to 3 m tall. Fan-like and spirally arranged cluster of broadly elongated leaves at the tip of the slender trunk. Numerous color variations, ranging from red to green to variegated forms. Yellowish to red flowers that mature into red berries. The plant is of great…

Parrot flower

Parrot FlowerHeliconia cf. psittacorum (Heliconiaceae) Characteristics Erect, evergreen, perennial herb, up to 2 m tall. Leaves with prominent central nervation. Pseudostems (formed by the leaf sheaths) emerge from underground rhizomes. The inflorescence (cluster of flowers) range in colourful hues of yellow, orange and red. The inflorescence consists of brightly colored, waxy bracts (special leaves at…