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St. Croix Flora: Plants to Avoid or Love & Enjoy

“Kill ya or heal ya” was what the ancient Crucian lady told me just yesterday.  She shot me a toothy grin as her deep smile lines crinkled softly around her eyes.  She sold me some of the best goat water I’d had on island.  I’m taking her word for it.

What this means is that most of what we have growing wild on this island is interesting in that it has beneficial/medicinal properties or toxic/detrimental properties.  There’s a long list of course but today, I’m reviewing just the ones that I’ve personally had experience with on St. Croix.

Aloe

Screen shot via this video.

After a long day at the beach, there’s nothing better than juicy aloe, freshly cut just moments ago to massage into your sun kissed skin but my favorite way to use it is for shaving my legs.  I haven’t bought shaving cream for a very long time.

Bougainvillea

These always hold a special place in my heart as they were my wedding flowers that my mother in law cut for me from the backyard of our wedding villa.  When we first touched down to our new home in St. Croix, it was one of the first flowers I saw and they also happen to grow all over our house.  They grow in a variety of vivid shades but be careful as they do have lots of thorns on them.  They’re gorgeous and I love seeing them crawl up the sides of houses and spray its beautiful color all over the grounds but did you know that they’re actually edible?  From lush colored punch to cough-combating teas/elixers, they can also be eaten fried, in salads and more.

Ginger Thomas

Here is Nala face frolicking amongst the yellow flowers.

Here’s a closer look of the official flower of the USVI.

I find them thriving year round all around me.  They have a light, delicate scent {some say that reminds them of champagne} and historically, they’ve been used to aid a woman after childbirth.

 

Hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers are not only beautiful, they’re also great for those with high blood pressure.  When you add citrus to your tea, it also changes color which would make it a fun drink to make with kids.

Manchineel Tree

These are not cute little baby apples.  These are known as the little apple of death and fall from the manchineel tree {aka the worlds most dangerous tree}.  Every part of this tree contains a toxin from its sap, bark, leaves, even the fumes if burned and so forth.  It can be fatal when ingested so its best to just stay away from it altogether.

Moringa Tree

Following the scariest tree is the best tree.  Moringa is my favorite from this line up.

It’s said to be more nutritionally dense than kale or spinach and the most obvious way to enjoy it is blended into a smoothie but you can also take the leaves and toss it into a salad.  They remind me a bit of arugula with its peppery bite.  Every part of the moringa tree is edible/beneficial which is in stark contrast to its arch nemesis, the manchineel tree.  Even the flowers are good for edible flower candy.  I also like to fold a bunch of leaves into Nala’s food.

Noni

This stinky little guy is alien in aesthetic but luxurious in quality.  To be fair, it smells of blue cheese and can be easily masked with essential oils for beauty or stronger flavors for food.  However, I don’t think I can find fermented noni to be too palatable.

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