Native Plant of the Week

By Joanne Mercille

Phyllanthus caymanensis
PHYLLANTHACEAE

Height: 10 feet high x 6 feet wide
Growth habit: Full and round
Flowers: A single small white/pink-throated flower is born in the leaf axil. It will hang in the middle of the small leaf, and as a pendulum later on.
Soil requirement: Well-drained, good soil. In the wild, it is found in leaf litter between rock pockets.
Light requirements: Full sun to part-shade
Environment tolerance: Drought, but not wind-tolerant.

DISTRIBUTION
This plant is endemic to the Cayman Islands only; it is found on Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

DESCRIPTION
Phyllanthus caymanensis has small, heart-shaped deep-green leaves defined by a red pencil edging. It will come into bloom several times a year. A single, two-toned diminutive flower that hangs in the leaf crescent when young, will fall in a pendulum when it is mature and fruits. A round fruit will form at the end of the pendulum. The entire plant is blushed in a pink hue when in bloom and is very dainty as a whole.

HORTICULTURE POTENTIAL
This is a lovely, tall bush, and as such, it makes a perfect landscape specimen. It is a flora jewel that is found only in the Cayman Islands.

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

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