Native plant of the week

Eugenia axillaris

STRAWBERRY or WHITE STOPPER

Species: Eugenia axillaris

Family: MYRTACEAE

Height: 10 feet high x 4 feet wide (large-leaf specimens are 20 feet high x 10 feet wide)

Growth habit: Slow-growing erect evergreen

Flowers: Small cluster of white flowers

Attracting nature: Butterflies and birds

Soil requirement: Well-drained soil

Light requirements: Dappled shade to full sun

Environmental tolerance: Fairly salt- and drought-tolerant

This evergreen tree is a cornerstone plant. It is critical to its environment as it provides nectar to butterflies; fruits to birds; and flexible wood to humans for their shelter.

Culturally, the Strawberry Tree’s branches were weaved to make Caymanian wattle-and-daub walls in old houses and jam was also made with the fruit.

This plant is found in two varieties, with small or large leaves. While some of the large-leaf specimens have an interesting red-on-green-leaf pattern, most have bright red new leaves that are quite showy.

Horticulture potential: This versatile, slow-growing evergreen tree is also well suited for manicured hedges. It is an all-around perfect landscape material with its striking white blooms and colorful berries that invite butterflies and birds to your garden.

BIO: Joanne Mercille

Mercille has called Grand Cayman home since 1997 and she has a keen interest in local flora. She is curator for the National Trust Herbarium and has created an online database for public viewing of the physical herbarium.

She is also webmaster for www.caymanflora.org and owns Caribbean Blooms – a native
plant nursery. Website: www.caribbeanblooms.ky.

She is an avid gardener and member of the Garden Club of Grand Cayman.