In man's quest for good health and longevity we
are witnessing a new awareness and appreciation
for the healing power of Nature's plants.
shift in our consciousness and the many benefits
derived from herbs indicate that like conventional
medication it will always have a place in civilizations
that believe Nature is indeed the backbone for the
restoration of our physical condition. Many of us
enhance our meals, use herbal drinks and body boosters,
sometimes oblivious to the nutrients or the healing
properties they contain and which plants are to
be found in our backyard gardens.
Herbal practitioners suggest using the following
herbs in conjunction with healthy food and exercise:
CELERY - Improves appetite
and helps in lowering high blood pressure
CHADON BENI - Used
for Fevers, Flu and Constipation
ROU COU - Assists hair
growth and controls dandruff
ANNATTO - Can reduce
ROSEMARY - Helps to
stimulate circulation and digestion, detoxifies
the liver and soothes menstrual cramps
Things Natural stock a
wide variety of herbal medicines, grown organically
Sir Hans Sloane, a wealthy London doctor and collector
of books and natural specimens, worked in Jamaica
for 15 months as the then Governor's physician.
While there he noticed that the local people brewed
a bitter drink from cocoa beans. Finding the taste
"nauseous", he added hot milk and sugar to the concoction
and licensed these preparation rights to the Cadbury
Brothers upon his return to England, thereby popularizing
drinking chocolate as a beverage with medicinal
In his Will, his collection of books, plants and
animal specimens were left to the Nation and these
formed the basis of the first British Museum from
which the Natural History Museum evolved.
Hans Sloane was also a Member of Parliament and
the picturesque Sloane Square situated at the bottom
of London's trendy Kings Road is named after him
as his family owned the surrounding lands.
Go see Tobago's Cocoa Estate in Roxborough -
a great experience.
Swampy Nurseries The crab you find in your 'crab
& dumpling' would have been caught in the mangrove
thrive in mud - they are often found in coastal
areas behind off-shore coral reefs.
Their prop or stilt roots are their most noticeable
feature as well as their ability to germinate in
salt water. Crustaceans like oysters, mussels, barnacles
and conch are permanent residents of this habitat.
Herons, Egrets and Ibis feed on crustaceans on the
ground, while above in the tree canopy you'll find
the Iguana, tree-boa snakes and various spiders
Caiman alligator can also be found. Lobster, Shrimp
and some fish species use the mangrove to breed and
raise their young. Mangrove swamps protect the land
from erosion by reducing the tidal currents and can
act as a buffer during storms and is a major filter
system for water entering the sea. Wetlands are under
pressure from development, over hunting and over fishing
and today it is claimed that less than 1% of Tobago
is covered by wetlands.
mangrove is an ideal place for a nature tour or
wild life photography. There are four major wetlands
in Tobago at Petit Trou, Kilgwyn, Bon Accord and
Buccoo, but others can be found at Courland Bay,
Friendship, Louis D'or and Parlatuvier.
Trou at the Tobago Plantations has a wooden walkway
through the mangrove which is great for photos and
close-up views of these unusual plants, without
getting muddy feet.
thanks to Environment Tobago
The unique, bizarre shapes
of plants known as succulents are the result of
adaptations which allow these plants to withstand
long periods of drought.
Fleshy leaves, stems and roots act as water storage
tanks and characterize all succulents including
cactus plants. The
barrel' of the stem collects water, while the spikes
(modified leaves) ward off thirsty animals. Evaporation
is reduced and limited through the shade provided
by its natural shape and the thick waxy surface
minimizes water loss. The Prickly Pear cactus' seeds
were dried and ground into flour by Native American
Indians while the edible paddles are today sold
in supermarkets in the U.S.A. for use in Salsa preparation.
The most common local usage for the cactus variety
found in many backyards in Tobago is as a natural
shampoo due to its soapy qualities when peeled and
indulging yourself at breakfast, dessert or poolside
with the ubiquitous Pina Colada, the pineapple is
very much part of the Caribbean vacation experience.
a few varieties of pineapple are actually sold in
the global market place as whole fruits, while enormous
numbers of slices and chunks are consumed from cans
They're harvested on almost every island, a consequence
of the migratory habits of the indigenous Carib Indians
who bartered them on their travels. The armour-like
shell and ground level growing position make the pineapple
a more suitable candidate for hurricane survival than
papayas or bananas. The Royal Botanical Gardens at
Kew, on the outskirts of London, played a major role
in cross breeding plants to improve their sweetness
and then returned the new hybrids to various locations
throughout the Caribbean.
dominant variety in the Caribbean is the Red Spanish,
which also goes by other names i.e. Antiguan Black,
Guyana Joe, Dominica Green to name a few. You will
find that the sweetness of this most fragrant and
juicy fruit is enhanced when stored in the fridge
and served cold. Pina Colada anyone?
to make a delicious Pina Colada:
- 1 ˝ ozs. Light or Dark Rum
2 ozs. Tinned Coconut Cream
2 ozs. Pineapple Juice
1 Cup Crushed Ice
Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend until
smooth. Serve with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino
a natural backdrop to Tobago's lush shore lines and
are to be seen in abundance on many former estates
where they were harvested and sold in Trinidad for
the production of coconut oil and other by-products
including soap and margarine.
cocoa and sugar cane their production and export potential
eventually became uneconomical, but even so, coconuts
remain the most commonly used floral resource as every
part of the tree has some human usage. Buoyant when
dry, growing easily in sandy soil and found throughout
the tropical world ,they are spread great distances
over the seas by maritime currents; exposure to wintry
conditions is usually fatal.
"Get your coconut water, It's good for your daughter,
Coco got a lotta iron, Make you strong like a lion."
refreshing coconut water from the green nut is a popular
long, cold drink and a favourite mixer for rum. You
can usually purchase the 'water nuts' at the Scarborough
Market or in plastic bottles to take home from vendors.
dry nut produces the most widely used cooking ingredient
- coconut milk which is produced by squeezing the
concoction produced by mixing warm water with the
grated, fleshy meat of the dried seed. This milk is
the liquid cooks and chefs use extensively to flavour
meat and fish to give that wonderful coconut taste
to certain dishes. When refrigerated, the cream rises
to the top and is a richer more concentrated product
that can be sold in blocks like butter, hence coconut
cream, sold world-wide in ethnic shops. In Tobago
it's usually marketed in powder form as coconut cream
The grated coconut meat is also used to make coconut
candy and a variety of baked items like coconut bake,
breads, cakes and tarts; coconut ice-cream is everyone's
Sturdy cricket bats for soft-ball games can be fashioned
from the green or dried branches which are also used
for thatching and fencing. The long plentiful leaves
are used to weave baskets and sun hats. The ribs or
spines of the long leaves, when bound together, make
perfectly functional brooms; being light and flexible
kids find them ideal for kite making.
strong fibre from the dried husks i.e. the outside
covering of the seed, is used to produce ropes, mats,
brushes, stuffing and potting compost and is also
an excellent source of fuel for cooking. The super
hard shell is used for making buttons, bird feeders
and coconut jewellery for the tourism trade and the
trunks are cut into logs for use as posts in wooden
Finally, palm wine is made from the fermented sap
of the flower clusters while from the roots of this
amazing tree is derived a medicinal potion used in
the treatment of dysentery.
of Life, indeed!
sure to see them growing everywhere on the island,
their huge purple bulbous flowers dangling and the
fruit in large uniform green bunches; the plants produce
one bunch of fruit from one flowering stem, then dies
sending out new shoots called suckers.
were brought to Europe by Portuguese sailors in the
15th century and then to the West Indies by the Spanish,
but it's believed that Alexander the Great came upon
them in India. Bananas are perhaps the world's favourite
fruit and can be served in any number of imaginative
ways - from smoothies and punches to exotic cocktails
or baked in breads or sliced and sprinkled over with
brown sugar and served with a dollop of ice cream.
best to buy them with a slight green tinge and keep
them away from direct sunlight to keep them from ripening
too quickly. They are rich in Vitamin C, Potassium and
Magnesium but low in fat.
You might like to try the other rarer varieties you'll
find on sale at the market; they're smaller than the
standard bananas and although they're not as common,
they're just as sweet but with their own individual
tastes - ask for 'silk figs' or 'c-key-a figs' (a forefinger
in length) - fully ripe, these mutants will delight
your taste buds.
Here's a local tip - Rub the inside of a banana skin
on your mosquito bites to stop the itch.
of the Flower World
More than one-half of the Earth's diverse plant species
live in tropical forests. In lush, tropical environments
plants compete with one another for sunlight. Vines
race each other up tree-trunks to reach the sunlit
canopy and air-plants (orchids and others) attach
themselves to branches and compete for every inch
of the precious light rays. Closer to and down at
ground zero, plants employ an adaptory ruse of dark
red or mottled leaves to help absorb sunlight.
tropical orchids grow on trees and belong to that
grouping of plants that take up residence on trees
and are known as epiphytes.
From the forest canopy they receive more light and
better exposure to pollinators and more efficient
seed dispersal than plants on the rain-forest floor.
Some special adaptations allow them to survive in
environments where water and nutrients are scarce,
hence the swollen barrel stems and highly absorbent
spongy cell roots. While not as common as tree orchids,
terrestrial orchids i.e. those that live with their
roots in the soil, thrive in a range of tropical habitats
from the shady moist environs of the forest floor
to the mossy vertical cliffs of waterfalls which are
favoured by some types of slipper orchids. Large colonies
can also find a home on dry sunny expanses of rocky
outcrops, sending their roots deep inside the crevices.
Listen to the soundtrack of rain forest animals as
you look for orchids on your rainforest walk; also
tree frogs, myriad insects and the ever present trilling
of squadrons of song birds.
Explore more - enjoy more!
I've been told that you'll find Mango Mossy and John
Buck Mangoes in Moriah and Suppie Mango, some say,
grows in Bon Accord, while Button Mangoes, so called
as they are small enough to get 2 or 3 in your mouth
together, and are found only in Charlotteville.
taste delightful what ever their names and T&T's no
slouch when naming the numerous varieties of this
juicy fruit found on these shores. The lines of the
old folk song by Trinidad's Olive Walk tell you how
seriously these folks take their Mangoes……………….
want a penny to buy Mango Vert, Mango Teen Mango Zabico,
Calabash Savez-vous all for me (save all for me).
the French patois language was spoken extensively
in many of the islands including Trinidad, so French
words were often used to name the mangoes e.g. Mango
Doux-Douce (sweet-sweet), Mango Vert (green).
been only 150 years since the East Indians were brought
to Trinidad to work the sugar plantations as indentured
labourers, and with them came all the different ways
they pickled, preserved, curried and massala'd the
green and almost ripe stages of the fruit. The Chinese
immigrants to the island added their own touch and
the practice of adding colourings gave rise to a thriving
confectionary business in the production of the bags
of 'red mango' preserves sold in all tuck-shops and
grocery stores on both islands, as well as in West
Indian communities abroad.
I dare say these preserves have also made their way
to Grenada and St. Vincent and other neighbouring
islands as all these sun-kissed islands take their
love of Mangoes to their hearts.
are some of the fanciful names we call 'em by…………….Mango
Starch, Little Pa, Ice Cream, Big Meat a.k.a Bellyfull,
Rosy Cheek or Mango Rose, Cutlass, Custard, Long,
Mango Spice, Mangoes Peter, Clementine and Graham
Mango - not forgetting the Queen of all Mangoes -
next time you are out walking in the hotel grounds
or the surrounding neighbourhood and discern Mangoes
on the trees, ask a local which variety of these fanciful
names you are seeing. Of course, there are Calypsos
about Mangoes including classics by the late Lord
Kitchener, 'I wish I was a Mango Tree, planted in
Laventille and The Mighty Sparrow's, 'If you suck
it right, the hair won't stick in your teeth".
the Scarborough market and you just might hear a vendor
was a lucky day for Tobago in 1776, when after many
determined years of perseverance in its cause; the
forest reserve was eventually legally protected thereby
making it the oldest reserve in the western world.
it was realised back then that the rain forest attracted
rain and that without it Tobago's water supply would
be disrupted and crops would fail. The plantation
owners and speculators needed land for their cash
crops of cocoa, coconuts and sugarcane and would certainly
have cleared the forests and sold the timber as they
had done in other parts of the island. The rain forest
provides other functions like controlling soil erosion
and allowing clear water to flow year round into the
sea, which in turn protects the beautiful reefs at
Speyside, Englishman's Bay, Castara, Culloden and
and tourism activities are dependent on the reefs
and would decline if deforestation occurred as there
would be an increase in sediment and change in the
saltiness of the seawater. These would impact negatively
on the reef systems.
Tour Guides are also employed to show visitors the
delights of the rain forest with its stunning wildlife,
beautiful vistas and easy access. They are called
rain forests as they are tree covered areas in warm
regions where rainfall averages over 200 cm per year,
allowing for year round growth. So now you know,
go take a hike!
kind courtesy of Environment Tobago.
size of a junior football, breadfruit is high in starch
and calories and can be cooked in various ways. This
versatility, as well as the ability to grow in tropical
areas and its abundant production capabilities made
it a valuable resource for slave owners with many
mouths to feed. Plants were transported from their
native Polynesia to St. Vincent by the legendary Capt.
Bligh and distributed to other islands.
Robley, Tobago's most prominent planter at Golden
Grove was awarded the Society of Arts medal for his
success in propagating breadfruit trees. The slaves
preferred plantains and it took some time for them
to accept breadfruit as part of their diet.
eventually became staple diet on plantations throughout
these sun-kissed islands, where they are still enjoyed
white sap, secreted from its trunk when cut, makes
an ultra strong waterproof gum and is a favourite
with rural boys in Trinidad to snag song-birds, while
its leaves and flowers are used for medicinal herbal
teas. No self respecting pea-soup is complete without
salted beef/pork and the ubiquitous breadfruit. Its
light yellow meaty pulp is simmered down with coconut
milk to produce a perennial favourite known locally
as 'Oil-down'. .
baked, fried or roasted the humble breadfruit remains
a firm favourite on these culinary appreciative shores.
local food outlets when the local tradition of Soup
on Saturday is usually on their lunchtime menus. Arise,
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