Some years back Mr. Small, best known on St. John for his work with honeybees brought over a slip of a gooseberry tree. This is the first year that the berries matured. On previous years the tree flowered, but as soon as it began to fruit the berries fell off. I believe the key here is that the tree needs a lot of water and where it’s plated here on the west coast of Chocolate Hole tends to be dry, but with all of this season’s rains the tree has fruited nicely.
The tree, a Malay Gooseberry, Phyllanthus acidus, is also called West India Gooseberry and in Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, grosella.
The Malay Gooseberry is thought to have first grown in Madagascar and then spread through the east Indies. It was brought to Jamaica in 1793 and now can be found throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
Here on St. John it is mostly used to make jam. When the gooseberries are cooked up with sugar they turn a ruby-red.
Nanny Point, located on St. John’s southeastern coast has recently been acquired by the Virgin Islands National Park Service. The 2.2-acre parcel, donated by Stanley Selengut, commands some outstanding views of Coral Bay and out towards the British Virgin islands. Mr. Selelengut, the owner of Maho Bay Camps and Estate Concordia, donated the land to the Trust for Public Lands, which then donated the Nanny Point headland to the V.I. National Park.
Nanny Point could easily have fallen into the hands of developers. The acquisition of the land by the National Park through the generosity of Mr. Selengut will ensure that Nanny Point will be available for the enjoyment and benefit of the public at large.
Thank you, Mr. Selengut!
Nanny Point, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)
Nanny Point also happens to be the habitat of a rare plant species, Solanum conocarpum, native only to the island of St. John.
“Solanum conocarpum is a thornless, flowering shrub that may reach more than nine feet in height and is found in dry, deciduous forest on the island of St. John.
Initially, the plants lost their dry scrub thicket habitat in the intense deforestation for cotton and sugar cane cultivation on both islands. Now, the additional threats of residential and tourism-related development, grazing by feral goats and the practice of burning off vegetation.
There are only about 220 S. conocarpum plants left in the wild in two areas on St. John – 156 plants at Nanny Point on land recently donated to the Virgin Islands National Park and 60 plants on private land.
Funded by the National Park Service, a project to propagate and reintroduce S. conocarpum into areas within the park was begun in 2003. But the plants are threatened by park management practices such as trail and facility maintenance, in addition to the feral pigs, feral goats, Key deer, and donkeys. The plants on private land are at risk from residential and tourism development.”
The beach at Leinster Bay can only be reached by hiking from Annaberg or by boat. Although most snorkelers make their way to the colorful reef surrounding Waterlemon Cay, there are things to see right off the beach. The sea floor is mainly seagrass and sand. The following photos show were taken just off the beach in the late afternoon yesterday.
Leinster Bay Snorkel
All about St John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands (USVI) American Paradise