Gineps a familiar roadside treat

Know Your Islands

The Ginep is a flavoured translucent fleshed fruit with a mild resemblance to the lychee. This is a slow growing tree which can grow up to 80 feet. It grows best in tropical regions – it is drought tolerant and grows in seaside climates.

The trees are both male, female, and hermaphroditic. Propagation can be by seed, although better selections are air layered. The fruit is generally eaten fresh and its native range is from Central and South America and through the Caribbean.

The following is taken from Wild Trees in the Cayman Islands by Fred Burton, with illustrations by Penny Clifford.

Ginep (Meliococcus bijugatus)

A familiar roadside fruit tree, Ginep has silvery grey bark, smooth except for fine horizontal wrinkles, and often colourfully colonized by white, pale grey, pink, orange, green and black lichens.

Ginep tends to branch quite low, with bare ascending branches and a large domed crown. It flowers in spring, when a mass of luminous yellow-green blossom seems to glow for just a day or two, after which the ground below becomes thickly coated with fallen blossom.

The spherical fruits are covered by a hard shell, with a sweet edible pulp inside, surrounding a hard seed in the centre.

Although this popular fruit tree is common in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, it is originally not native here. Its natural range is in Central America from Nicaragua southward, and round the tropical South American coasts as far as Surinam.

It has been planted elsewhere in the tropics and in Cayman has taken to the wild, persisting and seeding itself in old abandoned fruit farms and in residential areas.

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, or call 949-0121.The weekly column from the National Trust is submitted by Marnie Laing, Education Programs Manager at the Trust.

Last week’s answer: The Mastic Trail passes through a variety of habitats: Black Mangrove wetland, stands of Royal Palms and Silver Thatch Palms, abandoned agricultural land and extensive ancient dry forest.

Trivia question: What and where is the Salina Reserve?

Look for the answer in next week’s feature!

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