Know Your Islands
This beautiful broad-crowned tropical tree has waxy flowers which are about 2-4 in (5-10 cm) across and consist of five petals arranged in a tubular funnel shape. The colour of the flower is dependent on the species.
Jasmine is perfect as a patio tree or as lawn specimen. To contribute color and texture, use shrubbier forms in mixed hedges.
The following is taken from Wild Trees in the Cayman Islands by Fred Burton, with illustrations by Penny Clifford; Photograph by Frank Roulstone.
There are several shrubs and creepers called Jasmine in the Cayman Islands, but this tree is much larger than any of them and is quite distinctive. It is closely related to the various Frangipani trees which are planted widely in gardens and in graveyards in Cayman.
Jasmine has fat twigs with clusters of leaves at their ends, and conspicuous scars where older leaves have fallen. The leaves tend not to grow in the lower branch zone, so the tree appears open from below.
The base of the trunk often spreads against rocky ground, appearing jelly-like as if the trunk has been squashed downward. The bark is usually creamy white and sometimes silky textured, with shallow surface cracking, and abundant lichens coloured greenish cream, orange, pale grey and charcoal.
A broken off leaf exudes white latex. The fragrant white flowers have a pale yellow centre, and are often seen scattered on the ground.
Jasmine grows characteristically in dry rocky terrain and sometimes in coastal sands: it is common in all three of the Cayman Islands, and also occurs in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and on the Swan Islands. In the Cayman Islands large specimens were selectively cut for us in shipbuilding. It is easy to propagate from cuttings or air layering as well as from seed, and though it grows rather slowly, it flowers generously from an early stage.
Grow Cayman Plants and encourage Cayman Wildlife! For more information, to share your knowledge or if you would like to get involved with the many activities in the National Trust’s Know Your Islands Program, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.ky, www.caymanwildlife.org or call 949-0121.
The weekly column from the National Trust is submitted by Marnie Laing, Education Programs Manager at the Trust. The Trust can be contacted at 949-0121 or via email at [email protected]