Flora of
Bermuda

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Introduction         History         Location         Climate         Flora        Plant List         References
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Photographs by Michael Charters

To begin with, please note that this website is not entitled Native Flora of Bermuda. The flora of Bermuda is regrettably in the main an introduced flora. As is commonly the case with fairly remote oceanic islands, Bermuda's pre-settlement flora was limited to those species that could disperse seeds over long distances by means of wind, water or birds, and thus was a fairly simple one. Fortunately there are early records of that flora, which due to prevailing currents was primarily West Indian in origin, and there are a number of localities on the island where the native flora has survived. However people have been bringing plants to the island for four hundred years, probably at least fifteen hundred species, and Bermuda's warm climate and ample rainfall have made them thrive there. Those native species that do still remain are becoming fewer in number and harder and harder to find. They are waging what is in all likelihood in many instances a losing war against invasive species. But the war has not yet been lost and there are places where natives and endemics hold out. Hopefully on another trip I will be able to make contact with some botanical people or organizations and find and photograph more of those species. In the meantime, this is the flora of Bermuda as it is seen today by visitors in gardens and parks and preserves, draped over stone walls, edging walking paths, bordering beaches, by the side of the Railway Trail, adjacent to ponds and marshes, next to people's houses, around old forts, along roadways, and at places like the Bermuda Perfumery, the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo, Crystal Caves, the Bermuda Botanic Gardens and the Bermuda Arboretum. Bermuda is itself a single large botanical garden, riotous in color and profusion, and is the inadvertantly welcoming home of many beautiful flowering plants from other parts of the world.


Click on pictures for large size photograph.  Plants are in alphabetical order by Latin name.  Comments invited to mmlcharters[at]calflora.net.
Acalypha
hispida

Chenille plant,
Red hot cattail
Euphorbiaceae
Introduced
  Can grow to 10' high. Other Acalypha species have
  much smaller flowers. Native to New Guinea, Malay
  Archipelago and East Indies.
Aechmea
fasciata

Silver vase
bromeliad,
Urn plant
Bromeliaceae
Introduced
  An epiphytic bromeliad from Brazil, it blooms late
  summer to mid-winter. Flowering head composed
  of a cluster of pink bracts or modified leaves in
  which are nestled the inconspicuous pale blue to
  rose flowers.
Agave
americana

'Marginata'
Century plant,
Yellow edge
Agavaceae
Introduced
  Leaves have bands of yellow along the margins,
  hence the common name 'Yellow edge.' When the
  plant is about five or more years old, it can send up
  a flowering stalk to 40', then dies.
Allamanda
cathartica

Golden trumpet
vine
Yellow allamanda
Apocynaceae
Introduced
  Prolific climbing plants from tropical America. All
  parts are poisonous. Has milky sap and prickly seed
  pods.
Araucaria
heterophylla

Norfolk Island pine
Araucariaceae
Introduced
  Can reach 200' in its native range of Norfolk Island
  east of Australia. Norfolk Island was discovered by
  Captain Cook and settled by descendents of the
  Bounty mutineers. Shallow root system makes it
  subject to hurricane damage.
Archontophoenix
alexandrae

Alexander palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  The trunk on this palm enlarges toward the base
  which differentiates it from its cousin A. cunningham-
  iana. Also the flowers are white as opposed to lilac
  or violet. Grows 70'-80' tall. Native to Australia.
Archontophoenix
cunninghamiana

King palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  Brought into Bermuda from Australia, it grows to 50'
  to 80' tall. It has violet-colored flowers, egg-shaped
  red fruits, and blooms in summer. Also called the
  piccabean or bangalow palm.
Bambusa
vulgaris

Common bamboo
Poaceae
Introduced
  A vigorous grower that produces culms to 80' tall.
  Common throughout the tropical world, place of
  origin uncertain but possibly China.
Bauhinia
variegata

Orchid tree,
Poor man's orchid
Fabaceae
Introduced
  Spreading tree with fragrant pink orchid-like flowers
  growing to 30' or so and quite common in Bermuda.
  Also called mountain ebony in places. Genus name
  recognizes two Swiss botanists Johann and Caspar
  Bauhin.
Begonia
odorata

Fragrant begonia
Begoniaceae
Introduced
  Has ovate leaves and white-to-pink flowers with a
  sweet scent. Low salt tolerance Introduced from
  Jamaica.
Bixa
orellana

Lipstick tree,
Annato,
Achiote
Bixaceae
Introduced
  Species name honors Francisco de Orellana, 16th
  century Spanish explorer who with Pizarro conquered
  the Incas and then later discovered the Amazon River.
  Native to South America, mainly Brazil. Used in many
  ways as dyes, condiments, cosmetics and medicines.
Bougainvillea
glabra

Paper flower,
Bougainvillea
Nyctaginaceae
Introduced
  Named for world traveler, Louis de Bougainville, who
  brought it to Europe from Brazil in 1790. What looks
  like the flowers are actually bracts. The white flowers
  are in the center.
Brachychiton
acerifolius

Australian flame
tree
Sterculiaceae
Introduced
  This is a large tree when in bloom covered with a
  mass of brilliant crimson bell-shaped flowers. It is
  native to eastern Australia. The species name means
  'with leaves like those of the maple.' Uncommon in
  Bermuda.
Brassaia
actinophylla

Schefflera,
Umbrella tree
Araliaceae
Introduced
  Native to Australia. Grows to 40' tall. Also called
  octopus tree. Leaves may contain harmful toxins.
  Species name derived from Greek words for 'ray'
  and 'leaf,' and refers to their palmately compound
  design. Prefers high light conditions.
Brunfelsia
americana

Lady of the night
Solanaceae
Introduced
  Native to the West Indies. Sweetly scented flowers
  much more pronounced at night. Contains toxic
  alkaloids like other members of the family.
Brunfelsia
pauciflora

Yesterday-Today-
and-Tomorrow,
Brazil rain tree
Solanaceae
Introduced
  Also called morning-noon-and-night. Native to
  woodland areas of Brazil. Berries are especially
  toxic. Genus named for Otto Brunfels (1489-1534),
  one of the earliest German botanists.
Butia
capitata

Jelly palm,
Pindo palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  Heavy trunk is topped by arching and long-pinnate
  bluish-gray leaves. The bright orange fruits are
  called pindo dates in some places. Native to the
  grasslands and woodlands of northern Argentina
  to southern Brazil.

Caesalpinia
pulcherrima

Pride-of-Barbados,
Dwarf poinciana

Fabaceae
Introduced
  Small shrub native to the West Indies and tropical
  America, now naturalized in most tropical regions of
  the world. Has prickly branches and feathery leaves.
  Also called peacock flower because of brilliant floral
  displays.
Calliandra
haematocephala

Red powder puff
Fabaceae
Introduced
  New leaves are glossy copper colored, turn to a deep
  green. Flowers are 2-3" across. Species name means
  'with heads of blood-red color,' and genus name means
  'beautiful stamens.' Attracts butterflies and humming-
  birds. Native to Bolivia.
Calophyllum
inophyllum

Ballnut,
Alexandrian laurel
Clusiaceae
Introduced
  Large ornamental evergreen growing to 60' native
  to east Africa, southern India and Australia. Seeds
  contain a thick oil used as a medicine, hair grease,
  or skin cream. Widely cultivated in all tropical areas
  of the world.
Campsis
radicans

Trumpet vine,
Trumpet creeper
Bignoniaceae
Introduced
  Climbs by means of roots produced from stems to
  15' or so. Genus name is from Greek for 'bending or
  a bend' referring to the curved stamens, and species
  name means 'having rooting stems.' Native to south-
  eastern and Gulf Coast United States.
Canna
indica

Indian shot,
Cane shot
Cannaceae
Introduced
  Escaped from cultivation, native to Caribbean and
  tropical America. Named by Linnaeus who believed
  it was from India. Seeds are round and BB-like, and
  are often used in seed bracelets and earrings. Now
  naturalized throughout Old and New World tropics.
Carissa
macrocarpa
Natal plum
Apocynaceae
Introduced
  Native to South Africa. Fragrant flowers and stems
  with short sharp spines. Fruits are edible, tasting like
  a sweet cranberry, often made into jellies. Tolerant of
  salty soil and salt spray.
Carpobrotus
chilensis
Iceplant,
Sour fig,
Sea fig
Aizoaceae
Introduced
  Originally from South Africa. Long trailing stems with
  sharply three-angled fleshy leaves. Widely planted as
  ground cover.
Caryota
mitis

Burmese fishtail
palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  As name implies, brought in from Southeast Asia.
  Somewhat shorter and bushier than its cousin, C.
  urens
, it has leaves almost reminiscent of a large
  maidenhair fern. The common name mitis means
  'gentle, mild, without spines.'
Caryota
urens

Toddy fishtail palm,
Jeggery palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  Brought into Bermuda from Southeast Asia, this has
  longer leaves than its cousin, C. mitis. With a single
  trunk, it can grow to 80'. Blooms only once then
  dies.
Casuarina
equisetifolia

Horsetail she-oak,
Beefwood,
Whistling-pine
Casuarinaceae
Introduced
  Brought into Bermuda originally from Australia to
  replace the cedars killed by the scale blight in the
  1940's. Widely planted in Bermuda and elsewhere
  as windbreaks or to stabilize coastal sand dunes.
  Its very hard wood is an excellent source of fuel and
  charcoal
Ceiba
pentandra

Kapok tree,
Silk cotton tree
Bombacaceae
Introduced
  Grows to 80' tall (outside of Bermuda to 230' tall)
  with immense buttress-like roots. Native to Mexico,
  Central and tropical South America, the Caribbean
  and west Africa. Produces the familiar kapok.
Chamaerops
humilis

European fan palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  A hardy palm native to the Mediterranean growing in
  low clusters of trunks or with a single taller trunk. Has
  deeply cleft leaves with spiny petioles. Adaptable to a
  wide range of soil types so long as well-drained. The
  species name means 'low growing.'
Clematis
flammula

Traveller's joy,
Fragrant clematis
Ranunculaceae
Introduced
  Fast-growing vine with a sweet fragrance native to
  southern Europe and northern Africa. Poisonous.
Clerodendrum
splendens

Scarlet glory,
Flaming
glorybower
Verbenaceae
Introduced
  This is a spectacular twining climber often seen on
  walls or trellises. Attracts butterflies. Genus name is
  from Greek words for 'chance or fate' and 'tree,' a
  possible reference to the variable or doubtful medi-
  cinal qualities in some species.
Clerodendrum
ugandense

Blue glorybower
Verbenaceae
Introduced
  Also called Rotheca myrecoides or Clerodendrum
  myrecoides 'Ugandense.' Native to tropical Africa.
Coccoloba
uvifera
Bay grape,
Sea grape
Polygonaceae
Native
  Sprawling shrub to large tree depending on location.
  Native to coastal scrub, grasslands and beach strand
  from Argentina to Florida, West Indies and Bermuda.
  Fruits made into "seaside jelly" and wines. Highly
  salt-tolerant.
Cocos
nucifera

Coconut palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  Originated in the western Pacific but now naturalized
  throughout the world's tropics and subtropics. Grows
  to 80' tall.
Cordia
sebestena

Scarlet cordia
Ehretiaceae
Introduced
  Native to West Indies and Venezuela. Produces
  edible fruit. Widely plant to celebrate coronation
  of Queen Elizabeth II.
Cordyline
fruticosa

Ti plant
Agavaceae
Introduced
  The slender woody stem is topped by a crown of
  variously-colored leaves and when blooming has
  sweetly-scented whitish to reddish flowers. It is
  native originally to Southeast Asia and New Guinea.
  Formerly C. terminalis.
Cortaderia
selloana

Pampas grass
Poaceae
Introduced
  Striking feathery plumes up to 6' in height. As name
  suggests, it is native to Argentina and southern Brazil.
Cryptostegia
grandiflora

Rubber vine
Asclepiadaceae
Introduced
  Native to Tropical Africa and Madagascar. Rubber
  vine was used in India to produce a poor quality
  rubber latex. Poisonous to ingest and irritating to the
  skin. Also called purple allamanda.
Cycas
revoluta

Sago palm
Cycadaceae
Introduced
  Cycads are an ancient primitive group of plants that
  are related to conifers and gingkos. The species name
  refers to the edges of the leaflets and means 'rolled
  backwards.' The sago prefers sandy, well-drained
  soil. Native to southern Japan.
Delonix
regia

Royal poinciana,
Flamboyant tree
Fabaceae
Introduced
  Grows to 60' or so. Deciduous. Has spectacular flame-
  red flowers, feathery leaves, and large black bean-like
  seed pods. Used to be in genus Poinciana. Native to
  Madagascar.
Dodonaea
viscosa

Jamaica dogwood,
Hop bush
Sapindaceae
Native
  Widespread throughout tropical regions, also found
  in Cuba, Jamaica and Florida. Origin uncertain.
  Flowers are inconspicuous, while the seed pods are
  what really attract the eye.
Eriobotrya
japonica

Japanese loquat,
Japanese plum
Rosaceae
Introduced
  Evergreen tree with fragrant flowers growing to 20'.
  Has been grown in Bermuda for many years. Fruit
  is used to make jams, pies and a liqueur. Native to
  China and Japan.
Eucalyptus
camaldulensis

Red river gum
Myrtaceae
Introduced
  Named for the Camaldoli monastery near Naples,
  from where the first specimen came to be described.
  Typical along water courses. Has earned nickname
  of 'widow-maker' because it tends to drop large
  boughs without warning. Native to Western Australia.
Eugenia
uniflora

Surinam cherry
Myrtaceae
Introduced
  Medium-sized shrub to small tree, native from Surinam
  to central Uruguay, and naturalized on many islands
  of the Caribbean. Fruits when ripe are eaten plain, or
  used in pies, jams and relishes. Also can be distilled
  into a liqueur.
Euphorbia
cyathophora

Summer poinsettia,
Mexican fire plant
Euphorbiaceae
Introduced
  Stems have milky sap. The cyathia (glands) are
  oblong which differentiates it from E. heterophylla
  with its round cyathia Also called Mexican fireplant
  or fire-on-the-mountain. Native from southern US
  to northern South America and West Indies.
Euphorbia
milii

Crown of thorns
Euphorbiaceae
Introduced
  Spiny climbing succulent shrub native to Madagascar.
  Supposedly named by King Juba II of Mauritania
  for his physician Euphorbus. Common name is an
  allusion to the crucifixion of Christ. Sap poisonous if
  ingested in large amounts. Blooms year round.
Evolvulus
pilosus

Blue daze
Convolvulaceae
Introduced
  Spreading ground cover with attractive, silky gray
  foliage. Species name means 'covered with long soft
  hairs' and the genus name means 'without twining.'
  Native to Australia.
Ficus
benghalensis

Banyan tree,
Indian fig
Moraceae
Introduced
  Begins life as an epiphyte having had its seed depos-
  ited by some fig-eating bird, then produces aerial
  roots that take root when they touch the ground. It
  is native to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Figs are
  scarlet red.
Ficus
carica

Common fig
Moraceae
Introduced
  Spreading small tree or shrub native to the Mediterr-
  anean. When properly pollinated they will produce
  large quantities of fruit. The fig was apparently one
  of the first plants cultivated by humans and figures
  prominently in mythology and the Bible. Not grown
  extensively in Bermuda.
Ficus
elastica

Rubber tree
Moraceae
Introduced
  As with other figs, what appears to be the fruit is in
  reality a hollow capsule with hundreds of flowers
  facing each other inside. It is pollinated by a fig
  wasp. Grows to over 100' tall and is supported by
  finlike buttress roots. Native from northern India to
  Indonesia.
Ficus
microcarpa

Indian laurel fig,
Chinese banyan
Moraceae
Introduced
  Large tree with dense rounded crown and smooth
  gray bark. It has an aggressive rooting system and
  sometimes produced aerial roots as additional an-
  chors when mature. It is native from in East Asia
  from Sri Lanka through New Caledonia.
Ficus
pumila

Creeping fig
Moraceae
Introduced
  An aggressive climber, it readily attaches itself to any
  walls or other supports with fine rootlets and can
  cause damage to surfaces. It is native to East Asia
  and bears little resemblance to its larger relatives. The
  species name means 'dwarf.'
Galphimia
glauca

Cloth of gold,
Thryallis,
Gold shower
Malpighiaceae
Introduced
  Genus name is an anagram of the related Malpighia.
  Forms dense thickets and is often planted under
  windows to deter prowlers. Blooms throughout most
  of the year. Native to Mexico and tropical America.
Gloriosa
superba

Gloriosa lily,
Climbing lily,
Tiger claw
Colchicaceae
Introduced
  Viney species that climbs with tendrils at the ends of
  the leaves. Petals begin by facing downward, then
  arch backwards to an upright position. Prominent
  stamens. Native to tropical jungles of Africa, related
  species from Asia.
Grevillea
robusta

Silk oak,
Australian silver-oak
Proteaceae
Introduced
  Native to eastern Australia. Fast-growing, evergreen,   reaches 40' or so in height. The largest species in the
  genus Grevillea. Also called Australia silver-oak.
Grewia
occidentalis

Lavender starbush,
Grewia
Tiliaceae
Introduced
  An important species in traditional medicine. Bruised
  bark soaked in hot water used to treat wounds. Parts
  of the plant were also used to treat impotence and
  sterility, and root extracts were used to help in child-
  birth. Beer brewed from fruit. Native to South Africa,
  Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Guaiacum
officinale

Lignum-vitae,
Guajacum,
Ironwood
Zygophyllaceae
Introduced
  Native to West Indies, also present in Puerto Rico,
  Florida and Texas. It has beautiful blue flowers and
  very dense wood. Common name is Latin for 'wood
  of life," and refers to its medicinal properties. Some-
  times the genus name is spelled Guajacum.
Heliconia
caribaea

Lobster claw,
Wild plantain,
Caribbean heliconia
Heliconiaceae
Introduced
  Native to the West Indies, Columbia and Central
  America. No trunk or stem, but the Leaves can be 12'
  long and resemble bananas. Boat-shaped bracts hold
  water. Hummingbirds are primary pollinators.
Heliotropium
curassavicum

Seaside heliotrope,
Chinese pusley
Boraginaceae
Native
  White flowers with yellow centers in dense scorpioid
  spikes and fleshy linear leaves. Ranges from western
  North America to tropical America and Caribbean.
  Genus name means 'turning to the sun,' and species
  name means 'of Curaçao.'
Hibiscus
rosa-sinensis

Hibiscus,
China rose,
Shoe flower
Malvaceae
Introduced
  Widely grown as ornamental in warm tropics and
  subtropics. National flower of Malaysia. Used some
  places to shine shoes. Native to East Asia.
Howea
forsteriana

Kentia palm
Sentry palm,
Thatch palm
Arecaceae
Introduced
  Single-stemmed and pinnate-leaved, this palm is
  most often seen as a container plant. The trunk is
  somewhat enlarged toward the base and can grow
  to 60' although it is usually much less. Endemic to
  the Lord Howe Island group off the eastern coast
  of Australia.
Hymenocallis
caribaea

Spider lily
Amaryllidaceae
Introduced
  Naturalized from West Indies. Species name means
  "beautiful membrane" because of the funnel-shaped
  membrane at the center of the flower. Several other
  species of Hymenocallis thrive in Bermuda.
Ilex
vomitoria

Bermuda holly,
Yaupon
Aquifoliaceae
Introduced
  Species name derives from the fact that the fruits of
  this Ilex are emetic and purgative. Has been used as
  a caffeine-containing beverage comparable to yerba
  mate. Native to southeastern U.S. especially in mari-
  time forests.
Ipomoea
indica

Blue dawn flower,
Bluebell
Convolvulaceae
Introduced
  Often a pest because it grows so prolifically. The most
  common of Bermuda's morning glories.


Page Two



© 2007-2014 Michael Charters
Photographs may not be used without express permission of the author.
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