Authors: St. George Village Botanical Garden, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Revised 2/2019.
Citation: How to Cite: Thomas, M.B. 2019. St. George Village Botanical Garden, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. http://www.biodiversitydata.net/, accessed yyyy-mm-dd.
Locality: St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Abstract: St. Croix's trees have been economically important since the Europeans first arrived to the Caribbean. During the Spanish and French ownership of St. Croix, little colonization or agriculture occurred on St. Croix. However, the dense forests attracted teams of woodcutters who harvested the dense forest for ship repairs, and for timber to export to other islands. However, after 1696, the French virtually abandoned St. Croix and the island remained largely unoccupied until the Danes purchased the island in 1733.
This interval permitted the uninterrupted growth of hardwood forests and this abundance of natural resources, in addition to the friendly terrain of St. Croix, convinced the Danish government to buy the island from the French. The forests filled with valuable timber caused much comment recorded in the histories from the era: "Large trees... grew abundantly on all sides, covering the plains on St. Croix's south side and the mountains to the north in a dense greenery
Reunert Haagensen, writing in the mid 1700's notes, On this island there are numerous forests containing very large trees that are both useful and pleasant to see... everyone uses as much wood as required by his own needs, namely for the construction of storage buildings, slave dwellings and other essentials. The remainder of the wood and bush is burned in order to clear the land and prepare it for agricultural use. The amount of valuable timber and rare trees that were destroyed by fire and by the ax when the Danes initially started to develop the island for agriculture is incredible.
However, Haagensen continued: There were some, however, who purchase plantations with the sole aim of trading the timber. Then after the prime timbers have been cut they sell the property to someone else who wants to cultivate sugar or cotton. But plantations such as these cannot be located far from the sea inasmuch as the slaves and beasts of burden would have too far to haul the products to /hose points that are best suited for shipping. Many persons have realized considerable sums of money from such tracts of land, making it possible for them to live on the island in wealth. ...
Everyone sought the riches there just to make money by selling the timbers ... shipments of timber are sold at high prices year after year,. Since there is such a lack of timber in the English possessions, Englishmen have to pay high prices for It. Consequently, they look for it in other places, principally in St. Croix as being the closest and best source in that part of America. So it is that the most beautiful houses in the English islands, namely St. Christopher, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Marten, Tortola and others are a witness to this timber trade. Likewise, the majority and better quality of windmills and horse mills are constructed from the same St. Croix timber.
Haagensen continues .. . the many rare trees that are found in such quantities there. They have all kinds of names, such as Mahogany, ... Fustick (fustic), and Pockwood (Lignum vitae). Not a great deal of this wood has been burned because anyone who clears his forest either lets the wood lie to the side or leaves it standing. In a forest, such trees are considered practically as good as money in the bank ...".
Acknowledgements: Funded in part by the Virgin Islands Humanities Council.
Kessler, B. 1980. Priceless Heritage.History and Lore of Estate St. George, Home of the St. George Botanical Garden of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Frederiksted, 35 p.
Tyson, G. and Arnold Highfield, eds. 1994. The Kamina Folk: Slavery and Slave Life in the Danish West Indies. (Christiansted: Antilles P) 264 p.
Highfield, Arnold R. and Vladimir Barac, eds. 1987. A Caribbean Mission (translation). New York, New York.
Jones, Kenneth D. 1995. Native Trees for Community Forests: A Guide to Landscaping with the Native Trees of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. George Village Botanical Garden, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. p. 124.
Notes: [Download PDF]
Species: 21 (species rank)
Total Taxa: 21 (including subsp. and var.)
Andira inermis - Dog-Almond
Introduced, tree, Uses: construction. Highly decorative wood used in furniture and cabinet work, construction, bridge work and house framing.; F. W. Fosberg 53954 [SGVBG]
Bucida buceras L. - Black Olive
Indigenous, tree, Uses: flooring, construction, and fence posts. Wood is hard with high density, durable in contact with the ground, resistant to drywood termites.
Bursera simaruba (L.) Sarg. - Gumbo-Limbo
Indigenous, tree, Uses: resin used in glue, varnish and incense. Lightweight wood, soft very perishable.
Caesalpinia coriaria (Jacq.) Willd. - Divi-divi
Introduced, tree, Uses: dye, tanning. Seed pods contain 30-50% tannin and have bee used commercially in tanning leather. Dye is black and obtain fro seed pods.
Cedrela odorata - Cigar Box Cedar
Introduced, tree, Uses: construction, aromatic wood is a favorite for making storage chests and wardrobes. On of the most valuable timbers for use in tropical AMerica. Durable and reisistenat to drywood termites and other insects.
Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. - Kapok
Introduced, tree, Uses: canoe construction. The wood is soft, but trunks were used by Arawaks and Caribs for canoes. stuffing for life preservers, pillows and mattress fill material or stuffing. The cotton-like fiber found in the fruit is used from the seed pods.
Chlorophora tinctoria - Fustic
Introduced, tree, Uses: dye, construction and furniture making. The hard, heavy yellow wood is durable and resistant to drywood termites. A yellow dye extracred from the wood produces the yellow-brown color "khaki".
Citharexylum fruticosum L. - Fiddlewood
Introduced, tree, Uses: construction, furniture, musical instuments, fence posts. Fruits are edible and can be fermented into wine. Wood is hard, heavy, and strong.
Coccothrinax argentea - Silver Thatch Palm
Introduced, palm, Uses: tools. Leaves used for thatching and for brooms
Crescentia cujete L. - Calabash Tree
Introduced, tree, Uses: container and bowls. Fruit when dried, hollowed and used to make containers and bowls.
Exostema caribaeum (Jacq.) Schult. - Princewood
Introduced, tree, Uses: cabinet making, inlay work. Wood is hard, heavy, and very strong.
Guaiacum officinale L. - Lignum-Vitae
Indigenous, tree, Uses: construction, ball-bearings. One of the most valuable commericial timbers. Extremely hard, heavy and durable, its resin content makes it self-lubricating; it has been used in bearings and bushing blocks of steamship propeller shafts.
Hibiscus tiliaceus L. - Mahoe
Introduced, tree, Uses: rope, net, mat, cloth production. Fibrous processed and bark used.
Hymenaea courbaril - Stinking Toe Tree
Introduced, tree, Uses: construction. Wood is very hard, durable and resistant to dry wood tennits. An important timber species at times compared with mahogany. Used for veneer, cabinet-work and tumery.
Krugiodendron ferreum - Ironwood
Introduced, tree, Uses: construction, funiture-making. One of the densests woods in the world. Used for cabinetwork and veneers.
Mastichodendron foetidissimum - Mastic
Introduced, tree, Uses: construction. Wood is hard, dense and durable. A good timber tree very suitable for construction, furniture and heavy planking.
Pimenta racemosa (Mill.) J.W.Moore - Bay rum Tree
Introduced, tree, Uses: food additive, medicine, cosmetics. An oil obtrained by distilling the leaves is the main ingredient in bay rum, used in cosmetic and medicinal products.
Piscidia carthagenensis Jacq. - Jamaican Dogwood
Introduced, tree, Uses: fish poison. Carib Indians used root bark, young stems and powdered leaves to stun fish in open ponds.
Roystonea borinquena O.F. Cook - Puerto Rican Royal Palm
Indigenous, palm, Uses: construction. Dried leaves have served for wall and roof thatching.
Sabal causiarum - Puerto Rican Hat Palm
Indigenous, palm, Uses: Weaving, handicrafts. At one time the leaves were cured, bleached and dyed to make hats. Leaf fibers have been used in making mats and baskets.
Zanthoxylum flavum - Satinwood
Introduced, tree, Uses: construction. Among the world's most valuable lumbers. It is very hard, heavy durable, and takes a fine polish. Wood has been prized for cabinet-making, veneer, inlay work, and furniture.
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