Native plants of Cayman

By Joanne Mercille

Solanum havanense Jacq. is a rare find, but worth the discovery.

Solanum havanense Jacq.
SOLANACEAE

Description
Not to be mistaken for the spineless Solanum nitidum with long narrow leaves that can be found between Central Ecuador to Chili, our compact woody shrub is also a spineless Solanum and is considered rare in the Cayman Islands.

Little was known of this Caribbean species until its revision in 2008 when DNA sequencing was done.

This diminutive plant can be found mostly in our dryer coastal forest. Numerous medium-sized lavender flowers are set close to the stem in colorful contrast among the simple, elliptical, alternate shiny evergreen leaves. Striking, shiny, deep purple fruit are inviting to birds that love to eat them.

Dimensions: 4ft x 3ft
Growth habit: Extremely slow to grow
Flowers: Every-blooming lavender/mauve with yellow centre
Soil requirement: Well-drained, good soil
Light requirements: Partly shady or dappled shade
Environment tolerance: Unknown
Nature attracting:
Unknown

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Distribution
The distribution is restricted to Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and the Cayman Islands. It is locally found on Grand Cayman

Horticulture potential
This delicate shrub has no common name, but it has huge landscape potential. It is a hardy little bush that will reveal its beauty for those who are patient.

About 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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