Giant flax-like plant at Buena Vista,
Jumentos, Bahamas; estimated height
~20 feet, width at base ~9 inches.
Surreal seed pods, astronomically large asparagus-like stalks, strangling aphrodisiacs, quirky contrasting textures, determined invaders rooting in the oddest places…. Flora fascinates me.
Can I tickle your fancy with a few of these, seen in the Bahamas?
Cresting a ridge at Buena Vista, we came across a stalk reaching easily 20 feet up, with a base of at least nine inches. The stalk looked a lot like a gargantuan asparagus -- I felt Lilliputian. Its ample base of long strappy, spike-tipped leaved, radiating out from the stalk, reminded me of the New Zealand flax in my parents Sacramento California backyard. They also remind me a bit of century plants, or the silver sword plants seen atop Maui’s Haleakala volcano rim.
Cacti are not that unusual. In the Bahamas, poking out of soft sand, in the same vicinity as coconut palms rather than in a desert, cacti feel out of context. To me, it’s akin to a bride wearing a black leather, spike-studded choker to accessorize her filmy white wedding dress.
Cacti at Flamingo Cay,
Large leaves of silvery, velveteen do not seem to belong on the same shrub with bouquets of stiff star-shaped little white with red-violet-tipped flowers that look like they were cut from Styrofoam egg cartons then got a sassy French manicure in reverse.
Silver velvet foliage offset with waxy white and
red violet starry flower clusters on Rum Cay.
Solo red mangrove shrub taking root
in the middle of Hog Cay’s tidal flats.
More assertive is the love vine, sprawling its mostly leafless, landscape choking tendrils more profusely than a hairy scalp overdosed on minoxidil. It earned its name by offering its services as an aphrodisiac, according to a Bahamian historian who discussed local folk medicine.
Impatiens flower and
wandering jew plant
working its way through
The Bight’s churches
on Cat Island.
Love vine choking out vegetation on
Great Guana across from Farmer’s Cay.
|Fuzzy splitting seed pods|
on Lee Stocking Island.
If you can put me in touch with any Bahamian botany experts or are one yourself, any help finding out the common and scientific names and origins of these peculiar plants would be much appreciated! Otherwise, check back in a few months, as I will research this when my internet access is more ample in the United States.
April 21, 2014 BAHAMAS. We’re in Eleuthera, Rock Sound (N24.44.044 W76.14.451). The deep harbor here offers 360 degree storm protection, and excellent provisioning. We expect to hunker in the anchorage here for several days, with some land travel. Then we'll sail off to some other Eleuthran harbors for a week or two, then head up to the Abacos. Then it's back to Florida for hurricane season and working... somewhere until November, when we set sail for the South Pacific. At least, that's the current plan....