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West Indies Flora/Fauna

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West Indies Fauna
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West Indies Coastal Flora

The common Aloe Aloe Vera  The common aloe grows prolifically on the dry hills of the lower islands such as Anguilla and St. Martin.  The slippery, green juice from the leaves makes a soothing salve for sunburned skin.  We used to keep a potted plant of aloe on our old boat to help heal small galley burns.

On deserted sandy beaches we saw Beach Morning Glory and Butterfly Pea.  These are beach creepers, with long stems (several meters long) and lovely purple flowers, either trumpet-shaped, or characteristically pea-family shaped with a spur set off by background petals.  The sand-clinging stems serve to stabilize the sandy coasts.

Acacia trees and shrubs (many species) with their thorns and dusty green foliage keep casual walkers from exploring too far inland from the coast.

The thorny Prickly Pear Cactus Prickly Pear Cactus is very common on the low sandy islands and even the drier west coasts of the volcanic islands.  The red fruits and yellow flowers are brilliant against the blue Caribbean water.  Makes for tricky walking, though. The flower of the Prickly Pear cactus

Manchineel is a nasty tree, found on most islands, and identified by its shiny leaves and small green crab-apple size fruits.  The leaves, bark and fruits are all toxic, so much so that even standing under a manchineel in the rain can cause blistering of the skin!  The fruits are deadly to goats (and presumably people).  Around villages the trees are often painted with a wide red band to warn off unaware visitors.  (Native)

Close-up of sea grape Sea grape is one of the most common trees along the salt-water coast.  It has large oval leaves and clusters of small green fruits, which we hear are edible, but we've never tried.  They give good shade!  (Native) The Sea Grape tree

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