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Garden’s Big Ones that Maria spared (Part II of III)

Peering into a fragrant CANON BALL TREE’s flower. Also known as the COMB-AND-

The first part of the article presented on the following trees: Elephant Apple, Sausage Tree, West Indian Royal Palm, Banyan Tree and African Baobab. The article continues below.

  1. GUIANA CHESTNUT (Pachira aquatica): The Guiana Chestnut is one of the three trees with the largest flowers in the Gardens’ plant collection. The single specimen is located immediately east of the Division of Agriculture Main Office, measures 25ft around the thick buttresses and, like the African Baobab nearby, it regularly bears flowers but the latter do not develop into fruit. 
  1. INDIAN ALMOND (Terminalia catappa): There are possibly less than ten Indian Almond trees, locally known as Zamannand Almonngrowing in the Botanic Gardens. The largest and oldest specimen is located near the edge of the Gardens’ Main Road leading up from the Banyan Tree. That tree measured 12.8ft around the buttresses, and its stem is partly taken over by a large strangling Ficus plant which Dominicans mistakenly refer to as a ‘parasite’. At one time Almond fruits were regularly harvested for the edible kernel of the seeds. 
  1. CANNON BALL (Couroupita guianensis): Young children from the Roseau area named the Cannon Ball Tree ‘Jumbie Apricot’ on account of its fruits which resemble Mammee Apple, which Dominicans call ‘apricot’. But its common name, Cannon Ball is an apt description of the tree’s fruits which actually resemble large, rusty cannon balls which are regularly photographed by tourists.
Fruits and flower buds of the CANON BALL
TREE are borne on long stalks

There are five Cannon Ball trees at the Gardens, and the largest of these lost its top or crown many years ago, possibly during a severe hurricane. However, the tree continued growing but has been taken over by a large Ficus tree which already has its roots firmly embedded in the ground. Dominicans mistakenly refer to those types of Ficus trees as parasites, but in fact they are stranglers. The bark of that Cannon Ball is extremely thick, and the measurement of the tree around the stem and Ficus roots was 25.8ft. 

  1. PINK POUI (Tabebuia rosea):When in full bloom during the Dry Season, the Pink Poui, which is related to our White Cedar, a.k.a. Pòwyé, is quite spectacular with its thousands of pink, trumpet-shaped flowers. And while there is only a single tree at the Gardens, the southern and western edges of Benjamin’s Park in Portsmouth were once landscaped with some trees of that species, and one can also find a few smaller specimens planted on the State House Grounds. The tree in the Gardens’ collection measured 12.5ft around the buttresses, and is close to the popular Bamboo House and a specimen of Yellow Poui – the national tree of Trinidad and Tobago. Pink Poui attracts scores of hummingbirds and bananaquits (sikiyé) when in full bloom.
  1. DITTA BARK (Alstonia scholaris): Before Hurricane David struck in August 1979, there were three Ditta Bark trees in the Gardens. ‘David’ claimed one, and of the two remaining specimens, one died in 2009 or thereabout. The lone survivor is located near the southern edge of the Gardens Main Road leading to/from the Elmshall Gate.

Usually – but not always, towards the end of October the tree would be in full bloom with its thousands of small, fragrant white flowers that attract thousands of honeybees for their nectar. That tree has shallow buttresses, and measured 17.7ft around the buttresses.

DITTA BARK tree in full bloom (Dec 2004). That particular tree
survived Hurricane David (1979) but died about 30 years later
  1. AMERICAN OIL PALM (Alaeis oleifera): The American Oil Palm is the species of palm in Dominica’s Botanic Gardens with the longest fronds (locally called ‘branches’). Maria took away several such palms and left only three reproductively mature specimens standing, one of which is located near the Gardens’ wall leading up the Elmshall Road. That palm measured 5.2ft in girth, and was bearing a large ‘cluster’ or maturing fruits in June 2023.
  1. TEAK (Tectona grandis): Teak produces one of the most valuable furniture timbers in the world and is grown extensively in large plantations in some countries, e.g. Trinidad. Locally, the Forestry Division established a few small plots of Teak at the Cabrits and Calibishie in the 1950s.

The three remaining Teak trees at the Gardens are located near the American Oil Palm just described, and the largest measured 9.6ft girth. Teak seeds can be used to produce pendants for local botanical or seed jewelry.

Concludes soon