Bahamians call the forested areas scattered throughout their 700 islands Coppices. Whiteland Coppices, located closer to the sea and Backland Coppices, located within the island's interior sections, consist of many varieties of tropical plants creating lush and diverse areas of plant life. Many of these same tropical plants growing throughout the islands of the Bahamas also grow quite well in the tropical and subtropical regions of the United States, as their climates are similar.
Pigeon Plum (Cocoloba diversifolia)
Pigeon plum, also known as pigeon Seagrape, exists mainly within the Backland Coppices of the Bahamas. The plant has learned to adapt within the tall canopy of other tropical plants as it matures. The leathery leaves are quite large when trees are young to gather as much sunlight as possible within the shady forest. As the pigeon plum matures and achieves more height and receives more light, leaves decrease dramatically in size.
Plants resemble a seagrape, with more oblong-shaped leaves and have a high tolerance to salt, drought and wind. Plants average 30 to 40 feet in height, though can reach heights of 80 feet. Pigeon plum trees produce red, berry-like fruits, eaten by the island's wildlife populations.
Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
Pineapple plants belong in the same family as other bromeliads, Bromeliaceae. Well adjusted to living in the shady conditions of the island's Backland Coppices, this South American native is quite numerous growing throughout the coppice. The pineapple receives its nourishment through water and other materials collected into the plant's center rosette. Roots do little more than hold plants upright.
The herbaceous perennial grows 3 to 5 feet tall and spreads 3 to 4 feet, producing its fruit out of the center rosette. Cold sensitive, pineapples thrive in the Bahamas tropical and subtropical climate, which offers prime growing conditions for the drought tolerant, tropical plant.
Queen of the Night (Cereus oxypetalum)
Queen of the night, also known as night blooming cereus, belongs in the same family as other prickly pear cacti, Cactaceae. These cacti grow throughout the Whiteland Coppices of the Bahamas. They have adapted to the area's extremes including amounts of rainfall, frequent storms, salt spray and the island's herds of roaming goats.
The vast majority of the year the queen of the night looks like a scraggly vine, crawling over 10 feet in height on trees and structures. Once the spring rainy season arrives, the cactus springs to life, swelling with buds and then a display of 6-inch, fragrant, white flowers blooming at night. Flowers smell like vanilla attracting sphinx moths, which only come out at night. Plants prefer growing in full sun to light shade, are cold sensitive and relatively drought tolerant with moderate watering needs.