Category Archives: St. John Flora & Fauna

St. John USVI Flora: Anthuruims

AnthuriumsAnthuriums, like bromeliads, orchids and pinguins, are epiphytes, a non-parasitic plant that grows on another plant, but gets its nourishment from the air – thus, the name “air plant”.

Anthuriums can grow on the ground, on rocks, or up in trees. The local varieties are Anthurium cordatum (heartleaf), Anthurium crenatum (scrub brush) and a hybrid of these two.

The heartleaf is more common in moist forest areas.

It produces beautiful foliage that sometimes is home for tree snails and nests of wasps called Jack Spaniards.

The heartleaf anthurium produces a long pointy reddish-green stalk-like flower.

The scrub brush anthurium has long green leaves with seasonal red fruit. The dried dead leaves have been used in the past to scrub pots and pans. They are just as effective as the commercial pot scrubbing products used today, plus they have the advantage of being easily disposable, non-rusting and biodegradable.

The heartleaf anthurium is common in the Lesser Antilles. The scrub brush anthurium is normally found in the Greater Antilles. They seem to have met on the islands of St. John and Tortola to produce a hybrid variety (anthurium selloum), which is only found on these two islands. It is sterile and cannot reproduce. The hybrid looks just like what you would expect a mixture of the two parent varieties to look like. See if you can identify one.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Wednesday 4/8

Aqua Bistro
Mark Wallace
5:30-8:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
John Sutton
9:00
340-777-4220

Castaway’s
Karaoke Night
9:00 pm – 2:00 am
340-777-3316

Coconut Coast Studios
St. John Flutes
5:30 – 7:30
340-776-6944

Cruz Bay Landing
Matt Mirkut
6:00-9:00
340-776-6908

Shipwreck Landing
Chris Carsel
6:30-9:30
340-693-5640

Virgin Fire
Fire on the Water Dinner Cruise
Hot Club of Coral Bay
6:00 – 9:00
340-244-9713

See Weekly Schedule

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A Rescued Donkey’s Progress and Two More Rescues

A Rescued Donkey’s Progress and Two More Rescues
By Pamela Holmes

When I tell you that I’m pretty sure I could write a story every month about Dana Bartlett and her animal rescue efforts on St. John, I’m not kidding. I was no sooner in the process of writing an updated story about Suzie Q, the wild donkey found missing a rear hoof on February 1st, and also about TJ, a male donkey born on February 6th who initially required bottle feeding as he was not nursing, that I received a text from Dana at 5pm on Saturday, March 7th. Another donkey was found near Zootenvaal with one of his testicles bitten off. I couldn’t believe what I saw when I met Dana at Sandy Stein’s house on Eden in Coral Bay after Dana had followed the injured donkey through the trails. Apparently, he had gotten into a fight over territory with another male donkey the night before. The poor guy had been bleeding for almost 24 hours. He was weak but still very wild. It took the three of us awhile to get a halter on him and tie him to a tree. Dana then called Dr. Laura Palminteri. We tried to get him to walk to Dana’s farm, the Carolina Corral, but he had lost too much blood and was very weak. He went down in the middle of the road. Now what?? It was getting dark and we were afraid we were going to lose him. Luckily, Dr. Laura called back and said she was on her way. She arrived with Scarlett Steer, who settled herself down at the donkey’s head, while Laura immediately started the castration procedure via car headlights. It took all four of us women to try and hold him down and keep his back legs from kicking Dr. Laura. Luckily, a couple visiting from New York City appeared and jumped in to help; she holding the surgical implements and he a flashlight. After he was stitched up, we rolled him on a sheet and lifted him into the back of Dr. Laura’s pick up truck with the additional help of Matt Trayser. Dr. Laura drove him to Dana’s farm and was carried into a private stall. After a short while, he was up and eating a banana out of our hands. Like Suzie Q, though wild, I think he knew he was in a safe place and that we were trying to help him. Though Sandy had originally called him Stubby, as he was missing the end of his tail, Dana renamed him Ali (as in Muhammad) for the great fights he gave with the male donkey as well as us! Ali is recuperating at the Carolina Corral and getting proper medication for his wounds. He will be released once he is healed.

A huge thank you to all for giving up their Saturday night to take care of this poor helpless guy. I don’t know what we would’ve done if Dr. Laura wasn’t able to come. She has been helping Dana save animals since 1997. Thank you also to all who made donations to Dana in support of rescuing Suzie Q as a response to my article published in several sources last month. Suzie Q was checked by Dr. Laura on February 11th and given a good bill of health and encouragement that her hoof would grow back over the next six months. She lets us change her bandage on a regular basis and is so sweet, (maybe even appreciative)! The baby donkey, TJ, who was not nursing at first, finally got the hang of it after a couple weeks and he and his mom, Cinnamon, are doing well at the Carolina Corral.

Dana has been the only hands-on, all-volunteer donkey and other large animal rescuer on St. John for the past 23 years. She has continued to do it all these years because it fills a need in the community to care for the larger animals who have nowhere else to go. Despite the challenges and/or because of them, her work at the corral is able to make a difference in people’s lives as evidenced by two recent notes. The first is from a visiting couple and the other from a part time resident. They read:

“Dana, We enjoyed spending time visiting with you and your special animal friends. Meeting and knowing how your kindness helps so many animals on St. John and your beloved donkeys will forever be in our hearts.”

“Dear Dana, Thank you for helping the animals. Your example and energy make a profound difference for all of us. A kinder community. Grateful.”

She is looking to become a nonprofit organization so her efforts of assisting the animals becomes bigger than just herself and it can continue long after she cannot care for them. If anyone is able to assist her with this process, please reach out to her. In the meantime, her animals are always in need of support via feed, hay, medical supplies and general maintenance materials. Donations through the local feed shops, Home Depot gift cards, Jefferspet.com gift cards and veterinary services would be greatly appreciated and accepted. Dana is also trying to secure a pick up truck and a horse trailer to enable her to rescue future injured donkeys. If you would like to make a contribution to help sponsor Suzie Q, Ali, TJ or any of the other rescued animals, you can visit her website.. Contributions can also be made via PayPal at the Carolina Corral’s email, info@horsesstjohn.com or by check to The Carolina Corral 16133 Spring Garden, St. John, VI 00830. Keep up to date with her animals and their stories on her Carolina Corral Facebook page! Thank you for your support!

St. John Live Music Schedule

Thursday 3/19

Aqua Bistro
T-Bird
5:30-8:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
Lovebettie
9:00
340-777-4220

Banana Deck
Steel Pan
7:00 – 9:00
340-693-5055

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Erin Hart
8:00
340-201-1236

Concordia
Broheem
4:30 – 6:30
340-693-5855

Cruz Bay Landing
James
6:00-9:00
340-776-6908

Inn at Tamarind Court
Groove Thang
7:00
340-776-6378

Rhumb Lines
Shane Meade
7:00
340-776-0303

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St. John Flora: Horse Banana

St. John USVI Flora: Horse BananaThe banana variety seen in the above photo is locally known as the horse or donkey banana. It is a fatter than most varieties and here on St. John it is normally harvested while green. In this state it is a starch and is used as a provision food, boiled and served with native dishes.

The horse banana can also be allowed to ripen fully as seen in this photo and in this state the starches become sugars resulting in an exceptionally sweet banana treat.

St. John News

Haulover Bay has been added to the Virgin Islands National Park.

Thanks to the efforts of Lauren Mercadante and a group of like-minded St. John residents, Haulover Bay has been added to the National Park Service.

Lauren formed the not-for-profit St. John Land Conservancy and recruited donors in order to buy the is 3.5-acre narrow strip of land that runs from Haulover Bay on the north to Round Bay on the south. The Conservancy purchased the property for $800,000 and then transferred title to the Virgin Island National Park.

St. John Weather: High Surf Advisory

...HIGH SURF ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM THIS MORNING TO 6 PM AST THIS EVENING...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN JUAN HAS ISSUED A HIGH SURF ADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM THIS MORNING TO 6 PM AST THIS EVENING.
WAVES AND SURF: NORTHERLY SWELLS BETWEEN 6 TO 8 FEET WITH BREAKING WAVES OF 8 TO 12 FEET.
* TIMING: THROUGH AT LEAST 6 PM AST THIS EVENING.
* IMPACTS: LARGE BREAKING WAVES WILL CAUSE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS THROUGHOUT THE SURF ZONE AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS. WAVE ACTION SURGING UPON THE COASTLINE AND HIGHER THAN NORMAL WATER LEVELS MAY POSE A THREAT TO LIFE AND PROPERTY.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Sunday 2/1

Aqua Bistro
Lauren Jones
4:30-7:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
8:00
The Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano feat.
The Dirty Femmes!
8:00
340-777-4220

Concordia
Brunch with Bo
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
340-693-5855

Cruz Bay Landing
Jazz
5:00-8:00
340-776-6908

Miss Lucy’s
Jazz Brunch
10:00 am-2:00 pm
340-693-5244

Shipwreck Landing
Chris Carsel
6:30-9:30
340-693-5640

Virgin Fire
Sunday Night Jam
Hosted by Mark Wallace
7:00-10:00
340-244-9713

See Weekly Schedule

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St. John Flora: Pineapples

pineapple flower
the first pineapple flowers emerge

St. John pineapple fieldI’ve been cultivating pineapple slips in my garden, not only because they produce a deliciously sweet fruit, but also out of frustration with iguanas. It seemed that every time I started an edible plant an iguana would discover it even as a small sprout and finish it off. Pineapple plants, however, are tough and spiny right from the start and not desirable to iguanas and that is how they came to dominate much of the area of the garden.

I know of two ways to propagate pineapples. One is to cut off the crown of a mature fruit and plant it and the other is to plant a slip that comes off a parent pineapple, much like the way bananas are propagated. Grown from the crown, it could take as much as three years to produce a fruit, whereas pineapples grown from slips might bear in less than a year.

Ever since I initiated the pineapple project, I’ve been waiting to see that first sign of the pineapple flower emerging from the center of the plant, and this morning I was rewarded with the first signs that I’ll should have a good pineapple season this summer.

An interesting thing about the pineapple is that it is not one fruit, but rather a cluster of individual flowers that fuse together.

After bananas, the pineapple is the most popularly consumed tropical fruit, with an annual worldwide production of more than 19 million tones (39 billion pounds), but there is a dark side.

Commercial growers on the average use almost 18 pounds of particularly nasty pesticides for every acre devoted to pineapples, which potentially could adversely affect the health of pineapple workers, who are notoriously low paid, as well as contaminating nearby water supplies.

My pineapples are grown without pesticides, but picking them is no picnic as anyone who has ever had a close encounter with that tough spiny plant can testify.

On the good side, pineapples are a great source of viamin C and manganese and are if you get organically grown pineapples, which are available from local farmers here in the Virgin Islands, they are tastier and sweeter than the commercial varieties and potentially provide anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits as well as providing antioxidant protection and immune system support.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Sunday 2/1

Aqua Bistro
Lauren Jones
4:30-7:30
340-776-5336

Beach Bar
hris Klein & the Boulevards
8:00
340-777-4220

Concordia
Brunch with Bo
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
340-693-5855

Cruz Bay Landing
Jazz
5:00-8:00
340-776-6908

Miss Lucy’s
Jazz Brunch
10:00 am-2:00 pm
340-693-5244

Shipwreck Landing
Chris Carsel
6:30-9:30
340-693-5640

Virgin Fire
Sunday Night Jam
Hosted by Mark Wallace
7:00-10:00
340-244-9713

See Weekly Schedule

 

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St. John Fauna: Cuban Tree Frog

Cuban Tree Frog
Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis)

I found this Cuban tree frog in my outdoor shower. As it’s a creature that makes a loud, shrill, objectionable and annoying noise, I decided to move it to another location. I guess I could have killed it, especially since its an environmental nuisance that kills off our sweet little native frogs who sing melodious songs, nut I don’t like to kill things. Instead I brought it to another location.

I decided to photograph it beig that it was staying very still after I released it. I wanted a closeup shot, so I got down on my knees and photographed away. When froggie had enough of this he jumped up and stuck to my pants with its gooey, sticky, toxic mucus. Yuck!

Enchanted Frog
Kiss me!

I’ve heard stories that many handsome princes have been turned into frogs by evil witches. All a pretty young lady has to do to reverse the spell, which will turn the frog back into a handsome prince, resulting in the subsequent marriage of said young lady to the handsome prince, would be for the lady to kiss the frog. Any attractive young ladies out there that want to kiss this guy?

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Flying Termites

Last night the termites of St. John took flight…

In late summer the reproductive castes of St. John termites begin their preparation to leave their nest for the first and only time in their lives. They develop wings to fly with and compound eyes to give them the temporary sense of sight, which they will need in the vast and perilous world outside the confines of the termitarium. They also change from their usual pale color to a dark brown, the newly acquired pigment being necessary to protect them from the light of day. The transformed reproductives, now called alates, wait for the signal that will coordinate an airborne exodus of alates from all the different colonies in the area.

The awaited sign comes in the form of the first big rain in autumn. When the rain stops and the sun sets, the alates fly off en masse into the night sky. Termites are not strong flyers, and their flight, although slow and drifting, is generally adequate enough to put a modest amount of distance between them and their home nest. The flying termites tend to be attracted by lights, which is why you may come home some night after a big rain and see hundreds of winged insects swarming around a lighted area or crawling around your floor. Upon landing, their wings fall off and it is possible that you will not see any bugs at all, but will find piles of insect wings strewn about.

Outside their nest the termites are defenseless. They are easy and ready prey for any creature who finds them appetizing. The mass swarming of the termites, however, acts to overwhelm these predators, who can eat only so many of the little delicacies leaving the survivors with the opportunity to complete their one and only mission in life, which is to reproduce.

The unusually hard rainfall that signals the mass departure is an event that all termites in a given area will experience at the same time, thus increasing the probability that termites from one nest will mate with termites from another nest. This is crucial for the well being of the species, because the residents of each individual nest are most likely descended from the same king and queen, making them brothers and sisters, relatives too closely related for healthy genetic combinations.

The airborne journey is just the beginning of the termite romance. After the termites land and shed their wings, they pair off into male and female couples. The female leads the way while her love struck partner follows close behind. Together they search for the location of their future home, which will most likely be a crack or defect in a tree trunk or branch. The couple will then work together to make a hole in the wood. When the excavation is large enough, they will seal off the entrance with their feces. The humble hollowed out section of tree now becomes a royal bedchamber where the two previously undistinguished termites will live together as king and queen “until death do they part”.

The royal couple then mate, and the first eggs are laid. The eggs hatch into tiny larvae, which have the capability of developing into workers, soldiers, or reproductives. The destiny of the larvae is determined by such factors as diet, time of year, and the introduction of a chemical called a pheromone. This important chemical is produced by the queen. It is excreted through her anus and imparted to the recipient termites when they groom the queen with their mouths. Pheromones are also responsible for the attraction of male and female termites to each other at mating time, for communication, and for trail marking, so that the blind workers and soldiers can find their way through the complex maze of trails and passageways in and around the termitarium.

Tropical termite queens can become quite large and may measure as much as four inches long. The termite queen is well taken care of by her comparatively tiny king, who spends most of his life feeding and licking her. The queen can remain fertile for as long as twenty-five years, and as she gets older and larger, she may lay thousands of eggs per day….read more

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St. John Native Flora: Black Caper

St. John USVI Flora:Black Caper

When landscaping your property on St. John, a good idea is to think native plants. They’re just as attractive as expensive exotic plants shipped in from Florida nurseries and present far less problems. They are drought resistant. You don’t have to irrigate or water. They’re pest resistant. You don’t have to constantly spray with poisonous chemicals. And in the event of a powerful storm they may be broken or knocked over, but they will come right back  after the storm subsides.

The black caper (Capparis cynopallophora) is a good example of a beautiful native tree that thrives in dry forest conditions. Native to both the Virgin Islands and Florida, some St. Johnians have unnecessarily purchased them from Florida nurseries and had them shipped to St. John.

Black Caper Flowers and Seedpods
The black caper flowers open white and later turn pink

black caper juvenile leaves
The juvenile black caper leaves are quite different that those of the mature tree

black caper pink flowers
The flowers of the black caper are pleasantly fragrant as well as attractive

Black caper seed pod
Seedpod

seedpod partly open
Partially open seedpod

opened seedpod
The red-colored inside of the black caper seedpod

St. John and Virgin Islands News

USA Today published their choice for the top five U.S. Virgin Islands dive sites:

St. Croix: Frederiksted Pier
St. Thomas: Cow and Calf
St. John: Eagle Shoals
St. Croix: Butler Bay
St. Croix: Cane Bay

St. John Happenings

St. John Live Music Schedule

St. John Weather

Isolated showers before noon. Sunny, with a high near 82. East wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

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