In Bermuda, many indigenous trees, animals and plants are already endangered and some close to extinction. These are protected by legislation and include the Bermuda Cedar (less endangered today), Bermuda Palmetto, Olivewood, Yellowwood, Snowberry, Sedge, Darrell’s Fleabane and the St.Andrews Cross. All of these can be seen growing at Carter House, planted and encouraged as part of the Carter House Restoration Project 2019.
Legal protection for native and endemics is good but more needs to be done. We can all play a part by learning how to recognize these trees and plants and be proactive by actively protecting them and planting them.
Bermuda’s natural habitat faces an opposite problem with invasives, which are foreign or introduced plants. Over time, the invasives (usually introduced for a purpose including “engineering” or ornamental) have naturalised (jumped the fence, so to speak) and become “bullies” overtaking their environment and causing environmental harm. Examples of these species are Casuarina, Chinese Fan Palm, Mexican Pepper, Jumbie Bean, Fiddlewood, Wedelia Vine, Asparagus Fern and Beach Naupaka. Invasives reproduce and grow quickly and take over an area pushing Bermudian native and endemic plants to the side so that they cannot flourish. The old Bermuda habitat once dominated by cedars in many areas has been totally replaced with invasives, mainly due to the blight, but also failure to understand, care about and control them.
Not all foreign plants are bullies, some have become “Bermudian” and behave well, complimentary to the natural Bermuda scene such as Oleander, Hibiscus, Lilies and Freesias. These too can be seen beautifying the surroundings at Carter House.
The St David’s Island Historical Society (Carter House) embarked upon the Carter House Site Restoration Project in 2019, encouraging the planting, protection and conservation of indigenous Bermudian trees, grasses, plants and flowers and discourages the planting of any and all invasive varieties and promoting the active culling of invasives whenever possible. Presently, there are over 40 different species of native and endemic trees, bushes, plants, grasses and flowers as well as Oleander,Hibiscus, Pomegranate, Pigeon Berry and Freesias, and 12 Bermuda (mystery) Roses. There are no invasive plants.
To learn more about identifying indigenous and invasive plants download An Illustrated Guide to Bermuda’s Indigenous and Invasive plants here.
To learn more about the first 100 years of life in Bermuda and the diverse St David’s Islanders, visit historic Carter House and Museum and experience the unique replica Settler’s Dwelling circa 1612. Open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (summer) and Wednesday and Saturday (winter) from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Visit carterhousemuseum.org or call 293-5960 or email email@example.com