Plants Found in The Bahamas


There are about 120 species of plants found in The Bahamas consisting of native trees (Caribbean Pine, Red Cedar, Mahogany etc.), shrubs (Cascarilla, Yellow Elder etc.) mangroves, and palms. Because of its tropical environment several fruit trees are both native to and cultivated in The Bahamas. Native fruit trees include guava, sea grape and tamarind while cultivated fruit trees are the mango, avocado and banana. Plants are also used for medicinal purposes in The Bahamas, a tradition practiced, called "bush medicine." The tradition was introduced by African slaves, and gained importance among the islands because of the unavailability of doctors. Islanders have relied on (and some, even use today) several Bahamian plant species to cure common colds, indigestion and headaches. For example bark from the Cascarilla tree, is often used in a tonic for stomach aches, and leaves from the Kalanchoe plant are crushed by bush doctors, then made into a tea to treat heartburn.

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Tropical Climate

The geography of The Bahamas directly influences its climate. The Bahamas has a subtropical to tropical climate and is moderated by the Gulf Stream's warm waters. The climate of the Bahamas consists of two seasons, summer and winter. Temperatures during the summer range between 74 to 89°F, and in the winter, 62 to 77°F. Short occurrences of rainfall are often and can be immediately followed by sunlight; this is beneficial to Bahamian vegetation as multiple fruit trees, shrubs and flowers need an abundance of both elements to survive. During the year, winds are mostly easterly and rarely exceed 24 km/hr, with an exception during hurricane season. Although hurricane season lasts (officially) from June to November, hurricane's usually occur between July and October in The Bahamas. The most recent hurricane was in 1979 and resulted in the destruction of many agricultural products. Most of the crops grown in The Bahamas are seasonal and are therefore extremely sensitive to slight weather changes, especially hurricane weather. Increased tropical storms will aggregate the cultivation of grain and increase sea level, as a result minimizing the land available for agriculture.


Island Geography

The Bahamas lies in the North Atlantic Ocean southeast of florida and consists of a chain of 700 islands, cays and large rocks. Much of the vegetation found in The Bahamas is similar to that of Florida and Cuba. Surface projections of the Bahama Banks make up the islands, with the highest point being sixty-three feet above sea level. The land of The Bahamas is composed of fossil, coral and limestone rock, with rocky land, mangrove swamps, and some hills. Forests are found on the most northern islands and on the southern islands are low-growing tropical hardwood. Much of the soil in the Bahamas is fertile, however there is only a thin layer. It is for this reason why forests dominate a large part of Bahamian plants, as they require smaller amounts of soil to survive, opposed to other plants. Because landscape is mostly dominated by forests in The Bahamas, only one percent of land is arable.
Total Area: 13,880 sq. km land: 10,010 sq. km water: 3,870 sq. km

How Species Adapt

Geography and climate play an important role in what species can survive in the Bahamas. Plants found in The Bahamas are successful because of their abilities to adapt to a tropical, two-season climate and rocky, thin soiled geography. Three plants in particular, the Frangipani, Coconut palm and Lignum vitae thrive in such an environment.

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