The beginning of the fall rainy season is a traditional time for planting on St. Martin. To take advantage of the growing season, stop by the Les Fruits de Mer association’s free plant stand at Amuseum Naturalis! Thanks to support from Delta Petroleum, they will have special plants available and some free books about plants.
“We have a free plant stand at Amuseum Naturalis that we stock all year, but right now is the best time to get those plants into the ground,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We give away about 1,000 plants every year. We focus on native tree seedlings, and heritage plants like herbs and fruit tree seedlings. We want to help people create a space for birds and other animals in their backyard or neighborhood. We also want to support local plant traditions.”
Some of the local tree seedlings include calabash, lignum vitae, soursop, coco plum and sugar apple. Heritage plants include paracetamol, stinging thyme, lemongrass and Malabar spinach. The association will be filling the free plant stand with extra stock for the rest of the month. On Saturday, September 25th, they will give away free copies of Plantilles: Plants of St. Martin from 9am to noon while supplies last.
“We are really happy to support the free plant program,” said Natalia Ayala, Delta Petroleum Island Manager. “At Delta St. Martin, gardening and plant traditions are really important to our employees, families and customers. We love that we can help bring life to the island.”
The free plant stand is located directly in front of Amuseum Naturalis, at The Old House in French Quarter. The plant stand and the museum are always free to visit. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.
St. Martin has some delicious native fruit trees, but many favorites were brought from other places. The Mango and Pomme Surette come from Asia originally and were brought during the colonial period. Other fruits were probably brought by Amerindian people during prehistoric times, like the Papaya and Kinnip. All of these trees have been part of the local landscape for generations, and their fruit is part of local culture and cuisine.
Mango (Mangifera indica) is perhaps the most popular fruit on St. Martin and in the Caribbean. The tree is originally from South Asia. There are many varieties. The “Julie” is one that is particularly popular on St. Martin. Usually mango trees produce a tremendous amount of fruit in early summer. Hurricanes or drought can disrupt this, causing trees to bear fruit at other times or not at all.
Papaya (Carica papaya) is grown all over St. Martin. The name “papaya” comes from the Arawak language. The Spanish adopted the word from the Amerindians they met in the Caribbean. Studies show the plant itself is native to Mexico, and was spread by Amerindian peoples during prehistoric times. Today, many enjoy its colorful fruit. Papaya fruit, seeds, leaves and roots are also used in bush medicine, to aid digestion and get rid of worms.
The Kinnip (Melicoccus bijugatus) is a popular fruit on St. Martin. When it’s in season, kids sell clusters of these small green fruits on the roadside. Beneath the skin of the kinnip is a thin layer of sweet pulp and a large seed. The kinnip tree is native to South America, and was probably brought to the Caribbean by Amerindians during prehistoric times.
The Jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana) has many names, but on St. Martin it is almost always called Pomme Surette, even by English speakers. It is originally from Asia, but has been introduced to many tropical areas. It was probably brought here for its fruit, but its leaves are also used to feed goats and other animals. It sends down deep roots quickly, helping it survive dry conditions.
Curious about St. Martin plants and their role in history and culture? Check out Plantilles: Plants of St. Martin, a brand new book all about St. Martin’s plants.
Use the links below to download it for free, or order it online if you’re not on St. Martin. If you are on St. Martin and would like to get a print copy, visit Librarie du Bord de Mer in Marigot, or send a message to [email protected]
If you are a teacher or work with kids, contact us and we will do our best to provide copies for your class or group. If you or your business want to help us provide copies to schools, let us know!
Plantilles: Plants of St. Martin
Plantilles is a book about plants and plant traditions on St. Martin. It tells the stories of native plants and how they survive on the island, farming and bush medicine traditions and the importance of plants in culture. It also includes a guide to local flowers. Buy the book. Download the book! (PDF, 95 pages).
Plantilles: Plantes de Saint-Martin
Saint-Martin est recouverte de plantes, et Plantilles vous donne l’opportunité d’en apprendre plus sur elles! Les plantes indigènes de l’île sont vitales pour toute vie à Saint-Martin, et elles ont des pouvoirs étonnants pour survivre aux sécheresses et aux tempêtes. Les gens dépendent aussi des plantes. Elles sont cultivées pour la nourriture et la médecine. Les traditions végétales de Saint-Martin remontent à des milliers d’années. Ces traditions proviennent de cultures différentes, notamment Amérindiennes et Africaines. Découvrez ces plantes et traditions fascinantes, et apprenez à reconnaître plusieurs des belles plantes que vous voyez chaque jour! Traduit de l’anglais par Jenn Yerkes, Amandine Vaslet et Julie Quéau. Achetez une copie. Download the book! (PDF, 95 pages).
Anyone looking to add some green to their yard or neighborhood can get free plants at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter. The free plant stand is located just in front of the Amuseum, and is stocked with an assortment of native plants and trees. The plants are provided by the Les Fruits de Mer association.
“Native plants are great for native animals, and after the destruction of Hurricane Irma, we still need to replace plants that were lost,” said Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “St. Martin is the most densely-populated island in the Caribbean, so there is not a lot of open space. Adding native plants around our homes can help make up for a lack of wild spaces.”
Les Fruits de Mer’s native plants nursery is one of several plant projects at Amuseum Naturalis. Promoting native plants helps local species and hopefully reduces demand for imported plants, which may arrive with unwanted pests. The project is funded by donations and a grant from BirdsCaribbean’s Hurricane Relief Fund. This fund has provided support for birds and nature on islands impacted by the hurricanes of 2017.
Other plant projects at Amuseum Naturalis include a native plant trail, a bush tea and bush medicine garden, and plantings of traditional food crops. Amuseum visitors are invited to learn all about plants and plant use on St. Martin. They are also welcome to share knowledge about plants and how they are used. The association will also give away seedlings of heritage plants used in bush teas.
“Please come by and pick up some free plants,” invited Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “You can also visit the Amuseum for free while you are there! And please continue to share what you know about local plants and how they are used, so this knowledge can be passed on to future generations.”
Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is a free museum sharing all that is special about St. Martin. It is open 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday, and is located at The Old House on the hill above Le Galion beach in French Quarter. The free plant stand is in front of the Amuseum and accessible at all times.