Share This On:
Did you know that the West Indian Tree Fern or Caribbean Tree Fern can be found growing on the following Caribbean Islands Greater Antilles, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Lesser Antilles in St. Lucia, Saba, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Montserrat, Martinique, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Nevis, Grenada and Trinidad?
The species can also be found in Central America in the lowlands of eastern Mexico through to Venezuela.
Cyathea arborea is the botanical name for the Caribbean tree Fern. In St. Lucia, it is known and Fwijé and it is one of the earliest tree ferns to be described in Europe in the 18th century.
Did you know the stem comprises a hard black outer layer 3mm or more in thickness and a central white soft pith containing a ring of brown bundles which serve for conduction and strength? Though not solid wood, the hard trunks are durable and resistant to decay and termites. While the Fwijé trunk is used as support for vanilla plants and other orchids and the Fwijé fronds and other fern fronds are also used in floral arrangements.
Do any of you remember back in the day up in the hills your parents cutting out the heart of Fwijé, slicing it and put in a bucket or drum of water? They believe this kept the water cool.
Do you remember your parents carrying live fire coals in hollowed-out Fwijé trunk and there would be no smoke or flames for hours?
Please do not go into the forests and cut down Fwijé or any trees indiscriminately.
Photo Credit: http://foodartandcaribbean
This feature runs every Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]