Restaurants offer solutions for diversity challenges

| 11/09/2010

(CNS): In the latest edition of Flicker, the Department of Environment’s monthly magazine bulletin, the Ecology Unit looks at lionfish suppers and Casuarina roasts and the restaurants that are addressing some of the challenges facing threats to species diversity. While Mezza is helping out with the islands’ invasive lionfish problem by serving up the reportedly tasty fish on its menu, Michaels, a new restaurant in Camana Bay, is hoping to offer a solution to the choking effects of the Casuarinas. The restaurant is offering people the opportunity to make some money by selling their unwanted trees.

Although Casuarina trees have been in Cayman a long time they are not native and they are something of a mixed blessing. While providing welcome shade on the beach, the shed pines actively smother all other species.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Casaurina Wood is one of the best firewoods in the world.  It has a high calorific value and its smoke makes the best bbq chicken you’ve ever tasted.  Cayman Sea Grape tree also imparts a very mild and aromatic flavour for smoking meat and fish.

  2. Peter Davey says:

    A far worse problem than Casuarina trees is caused by the invasive and agressive Scaevola, beloved by landscapers, spread by Ivan, and now taking over the entire coastline, from the Kai to South Sound. Soon we will have a coastal monoculture, and  our remaining Caymanian  beach flora will have entirely disappeared by the time we react to the situation. We argue about snails and scorpions, while the entire littoral environment is disappearing before our (closed) eyes.

    • Jonathan says:

      There is an indigenous version of the plant that you have mentioned.  It has black berries while the introduced version has white berries.  It survives only in the Eastern districts.  For how much longer is another story.  Both the snails and the scorpions you mentioned were introduced to Cayman, the first in landscaping shipments and the latter in pallets of construction materials i.e. lumber.  The scorpions that I want to eradicate are of a human kind.  That is with full apologies to the animal kingdom.  Anybody want to know how the pink hibiscus mealybug got here and for whom the shipment was?  XXXXXX

      • Mat DaCosta-Cottam says:

        Hi Jonathan – I think Peter is referring to a scorpion and snails which are endemic to the islands – not the common imported varieties with which most of us are familiar. However, as you mention, importation of landscaping plants is one of the main ways in which invasive species have been introduced in the past – recent introductions include the Cane Toad and, likely, the Cuban Knight Anole. Purchasing plants and trees for landscaping which have been grown here in Cayman is the simplest way to avoid this situation – so I always recommend people support local nurseries which grow their own, such as the Native Tree Nursery at the Botanic Park.

        Peter makes a good point about the white-berried Scaevola sericea – it is highly invasive and a threat to local coastline plants of a similar magnitude to the Casuarina… and yet is still commonly used in landscaping. There is a local alternative, with black berries, called Inkberry Scaevola plumieri… however Inkberry is now reduced to just a few individual plants on the islands. We have been trying to raise Inkberry at the Botanic Park, but it appears difficult to propagate away from the sea. A good, and commonly available alternative to the invasive Scaevola is Cocoplum, which readily takes in sandy soils and is highly salt-tolerant (Cocoplum is also available for purchase from the Native Tree Nursery).


        • Jonathan says:

          Hello Mat

          I agree with what both of you say.  The only indigenous scorpion that I know about I used to find asa child under the leaves of sea grape trees, especially down by Smith’s Cove.  They were very small and of an orange/yellow colour.  Being about the size of an adult’s thumbnail, they were not noticeable unless one was actually looking.  I have not seen one in years, like many other things.  In regards to the Australian Pine we in Cayman are so used to it now that many view it as Caymanian and love it for it’s shade etc.  The negative aspects of obstructing turtle nesting and smothering/poisoning plants around it do however make it detrimental to the overall ecosystem.  Florida already has an eradication program.  It is good for wood fire cooking as it is not a true softwood pine (my chainsaw can testify to that).  If one uses sea grape to cook with then one should be reminded to utilize the deadfall branches and not the living branches unless it is your own tree.  The road works often results in cutting these trees and for them to be thrown away is silly.  As for the Inkberry I would like to plant it on my canal lot in North Sound Estates.  I would be happy to dedicate an area for propogating the plant and any help in getting some to start this up would be much appreciated as I do not know where to get it in the wild.  The works of the Botanic Park have all been good as far as I can see it.  When I do go to plant off some coco plum I will pick some plums from those plants which are left on the North Side coast.  Is there a threat to the local plant from the imported version with respect to it’s originality as a Caymanian plant?  I am already aware that the broadleaf, the mahogany and the whitewood trees are in this situation due to imported varieties (thank you Mr. Burton).  I have been told of the origin of the introduction of the pink hibiscus mealy bug to Cayman but I do not have the proof necessary to pursue the matter further,  any help in this regard would be helpful because as I understand it was on a shipment which was rushed through for a certain entity here.  If it is true that this pest was brought here due to the greed of certain people and their ability to circumvent normal procedure and the due diligence of inspection then I would like to pursue the matter and at the very least make the truth of the matter known.  The native tree nursery is a much needed and valuable addition in the cause of protecting and proliferating Cayman’s beautiful indigenous flora, many kudos to your work, thank you.

          • Mat DaCosta-Cottam says:

            Hi Jonathan

            Sorry – I do not know anything more specific about the origin of the Pink Hibiscus Mealy bug – other than it was likely brought in through imported landscaping. With respect to Cocoplum – I was not aware that this was being imported to Cayman – as you mentioned, unique local varieties of Broadleaf and Whitewood are at threat from hybridization with imported Geiger tree and Poui – seems so unnecessary when we have our own unique varieties to plant. If you leave your contact details at the DoE, I would be happy to take a look at the canal site,to see if it might be suitable to test some Inkberry seeds… however, it does seem to be something of a sand / cobble shoreline specialist.