Jamaica is a diverse Caribbean island that is rich in culture as well as native plant and animal life. Away from the swinging scene in Kingston and the reggae music of the clubs, the forests and wetlands are host to more than 3,000 species of plant life, although most forests were cleared for lumber after European contact. Remaining species include mahogany, ebony, rosewood trees and many flowering plants.
Included in the list of Jamaica’s native trees are the following: mahogany, rosewood, cedar, logwood, palmetto palm, ebony, allspice, wild lime, Jamaican dogwood, live oak and coconut palm.
More than 200 species of native flowering plants live on the island of Jamaica. Some of the common varieties include partridge pea, Spanish needle, desert cassia, scarlet swamp hibiscus, yellow passionflower, turkey tangle or fogfruit, sunshine mimosa, blackbead, doctorbush, broomweed, swamp twinflower, wild petunia, blue porterweed and scarlet sage.
Sixty species of native orchids live on Jamaica. The small flowering Jamaica orchid is now very rare. Other native orchid species include plants in the following genera: Bletila, Brassia, Coelia, Dendrophylax, Elleanthus, Encyclia, Epidendrum, Habenaria, Jacquiniella, Lepanthes, Maxillaria, Oncidium, Pleurothallis, Stellis and Vanilla.
Ferns and Grasses
Sixty-four species of native ferns exist on Jamaica. The Jamaican maiden fern is common, and others include the “vampire” fern, tall tree ferns and the water clover fern, which lives in water and looks like a four-leaf clover. The dry areas of Jamaica’s southern region are home to many indigenous grasses, such as the Jamaican saw grass.