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Sea Grapes – A Different Kind of Grape

IMG_6107 (1)Have you heard of Sea Grapes? Have you ever tasted a wine made with Sea Grapes? I’d like to what the aroma and taste is like.

During a trip to Grand Bahama Island last week, we visited Freeport. From the pier e enjoyed participating in an excursion to The Garden of the Groves. According to our guide, the Groves garden was built to honor two Americans who had purchased land and then proceeded to add a pier and roads. Years later the land was sold for millions of dollars.

Of particular interest to us was a cluster of round berries that were similar to traditional grapes as they seemed to hang in a cluster. These berries are sea grapes, Coccoloba uvifera, family: Polygonaceae.

The Garden of the Groves sign posted by the plant notes:

This native tree was probably the first land plant seen by Christopher Columbus when he landed on Bahamian shores in 1492. He even stated in his journals that the large rounds leaves of this tree were used by the Lucayans as plates!

The Sea Grape is one of the first woody plants to colonize sandy shores and Lismore salt-tolerant than most hardwood trees. Small white fragrant flowers bored on long racemes occur in late spring and produce abundant nectar to attract swarms of honeybees. The species name uvifera is derived from Latin meaning ‘grape bearing.’ Clusters of recipe purple berries are not only favored by birds but are also eaten by humans. The fruit many be made into a wine-like alcoholic beverage or a slightly tart jelly. Leaves and bark are brewed into a tea to treat asthma as well as diarrhea.

Sea Grape trees may reach heights up to fifty feet and the large, dark-green leathery leaves with red veins that can be ten inches across make them attractive landscape species. They may also be pruned into hedges and are available in more local nurseries.

About the Garden of the Groves

The facility is certified by the Wildlife Habitat by the U.S. Wildlife Federation. Visitors to the Garden of the Groves are likely to see a large fish pond, birds, a Monarch Waystation and numerous plants including hibiscus. The trail through the garden is easy to follow. A tiny, maintained chapel is located on a hill. A large, well-maintained labyrinth can be used for meditation.


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