Exploring the Rich Flora of the US Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands are a paradise for nature lovers, boasting a wide variety of flora and fauna. From the dry coastal thickets of San Anturio to the lush tropical forests of St. John, the US Virgin Islands are home to a diverse array of plants. One of the most common species is Optuntia, which can be found growing on the ground, on rocks, or in trees.

Anthurium cordatum (heart leaf) and Anthurium crenatum (scrubbing brush) are two local varieties that thrive in the islands' climate. The Virgin Islands National Park is a protected area, allowing vegetation to grow wilder than in other parts of the islands. While many Islanders now buy pine trees from North America for Christmas, the traditional Christmas tree of the Virgin Islands is made from the stem of a mature, century-old plant. Breadfruit trees (Artocarpus altilis) are some of the largest trees found in the Virgin Islands and can reach heights of more than 80 feet.

The US Virgin Islands are part of the Greater Antilles, but they are often included in discussions about the Lesser Antilles due to their size and proximity to that chain of islands. The islands are characterized by their attractive subtropical climate, which attracts a large number of tourists every year. The northwest coast is significantly wetter than the southwest side due to tropical storms coming from the west. Anegada is one of the larger islands in the British group, with an area of 15 square miles.

Virgin Gorda (the Virgin Gorda) is 8 square miles and Jost Van Dyke is approximately 3 square miles. Guava berries are prized for their use in guava wine and guava pastries, traditional Christmas treats from the Virgin Islands. Little and Wadsworth mention in their book Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands that old locusts can be stripped of their bark in long, thick sheets. Virgin Gorda is rectangular in shape, about 2.5 miles long and 1.75 miles wide in its central part.

The US Virgin Islands themselves are peaks of submerged mountains that rise from an underwater plateau. The people of St. John call a certain plant 'chickenette', while those with roots in the British Virgin Islands and in the south of the island call it 'strawberry' or 'strawberry pear'. In 1848, slaves were freed in what were then the Danish Virgin Islands and freshwater needs have been increasing rapidly since then due to population and industrial growth. The US Virgin Islands offer an abundance of natural beauty for nature lovers to explore and appreciate. From Optuntia to breadfruit trees, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The islands' subtropical climate makes it an ideal destination for tourists looking to experience a unique ecosystem full of diverse flora.