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  • Writer's pictureJude

Flora and Fauna in Antigua

Updated: Jun 4

One of the most interesting things about being overseas is appreciating the local flora and wildlife. Here are some examples of typical flora and fauna in Antigua to look out for on your Caribbean getaway.


Flamboyant Tree

Flora and fauna in Antigua

The Flamboyant Tree has branches that sprawl from the trunk in an umbrella-like shape, filled with orange/red flowers. It was first introduced to the Caribbean by the French Governor of St Kitts, Monsieur de Poincy in the 17th Century and is sometimes known as the Poinciana after the Governor's name. These imposing trees can grow up to 40 ft in height and are often wider than they are tall. Long, slim pods dangle from the tree and as these dry out, the seeds rattle inside. These pods are popular with children using them as musical instruments known locally as shack-shacks.


Colourful fauna in Antigua, the Frangipani Hornworm

Frangipani worm

The brightly coloured Frangipani Hornworm or caterpillar has distinctive band-like markings and a spike at its rear end. They can cause skin irritation to humans and their secretions are toxic. They can be quite destructive creatures, munching through leaves at a fast rate and are commonly thought to be a pest. Surprisingly following metamorphosis it loses the brilliant colouring and turns a greyish/brown colour. The moth it turns into pollinates flowers and is known as the Great Gray Sphinx Moth.



Kigelia

The Sausage Tree, Kigelia

Kigelia is affectionately known as the sausage tree. I first spotted one in Jolly Harbour on Antigua's west coast and thought it resembled yam hanging from the tree.


The wooden-like seeds are heavy and can weigh up to 14 lbs. They can also be between one and two feet in length and are poisonous to eat.


Wooden like seed of the sausage tree


Antigua Wind Hibiscus, Barrel Cactus and Yellow Allamanda


Types are flora that are commonly sighted on the island include the Antigua Wind Hibiscus. These tropical red trumpet shaped flowers are often picked and used as table decorations in restaurants. The Barrel Cactus is found in rocky areas such as the cliffs on Shirley Heights and the bright Yellow Allamanda, locally called 'yellow bells', are popular flowers to have in the garden.


The Lesser Antillean Bullfinch

The Lesser Antillean Bullfinch

These birds are commonly found in the Caribbean islands. The females are grey underneath with brownish wings whereas the males are black with red throats and flecks above the eyes resembling eyebrows. They mostly eat seeds and fruit and love stealing food from cafes. This one was caught in the act, stealing leftover cake from someone's plate. Oh and if you take sugar with your coffee in the morning, keep a close eye on your sugar sachet, they are very fond of these too!


Hummingbirds

Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are fascinating to watch, their wings flap with incredible speed allowing them to hover. They are also the only type of bird that can fly backwards. There are three kinds in Antigua & Barbuda including the purple-throated carib and the green-throated carib. They use their proboscis-like beak to extract nectar from flowering plants and can be seen frequently all over the island. The Antillean crested hummingbird is a little different from the others. It is a tiny bird around 9 cm in length. The male's bill is straight and short and it is easily recognisable by the bright green crest on its head, tipped with an iridescent blue/green colour. The female in contrast is rather dull in colour and is without a crest.


Tamarind Tree


Tamarind tree with tamarind pods

I spotted lots of these huge trees while on a very enjoyable swimming with horses activity that began with a valley trail ride. The pods contain a dark, sticky fruit which can be made into a chutney, paste for cooking or quite a sweet juice with a hint of caramel.


Seaside Grape Plant


Seaside Grape Plant

Hardy seaside grape plants hang like bunches of grapes between thick, wide leaves. They thrive around the coastal areas and turn a reddish/purple colour once ripe.


Mango Tree


Mango tree

The main season for this delicious fruit is July and August. The versatile mango is commonly served at breakfast, it's juice added to cocktails or used as a main ingredient in a sauce to accompany fish and chicken dishes.


Neem Tree


Neem Tree

The Neem tree was introduced into Antigua from India over 80 years ago. It grows rapidly and every part of it is used for medicinal purposes. It treats skin and dental diseases, acts as an insect repellant and is even believed to kill cancer cells.


Manchineel Tree


Manchineel Tree at Pigeon Point Beach

The Manchineel is one of the most deadly trees in the world. Found behind beach areas of Antigua, they bear small, apple-like fruit which is also highly toxic. Every part of the tree contains a highly poisonous white sap that if touched or consumed causes burns and blisters. Do not stand underneath the trees when it is raining as toxins in the sap mix with the rain water and causes burns to the skin.


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