WE LOVE WHAT THE EARTH IS GIVING US
You can probably hardly imagine, but in the past our island used to have quite some forests of Brasia and Lignum vitae trees. Unfortunately, all the trees were cut down centuries ago by Spanish and Dutch, who used to dye clothes and build ships with them. Instead of these trees, large aloe vera plantations were established, and unfortunately every tree that started to grow again was immediately eaten by stray donkeys and goats.
We now have a desert landscape with mostly cacti, divi divi trees, agaves and aloë vera. We try to plant new trees, particularly on Klein Bonaire, but with varying degrees of success, as the weather has a major impact on growth. Our various cacti grow very successful here and we know how to put them at use. We make fences of the Yatu to protect our land against intruders. The towering Kadushi are used to make cactus liqueur and serve as a basis for our soup.
The aloë vera plants you see growing everywhere have healing qualities. They used to grow in large plantations to export the jelly-like juice of the plant. Today this only happens on a small scale. The juice is disinfectant, laxative and moisturizing and is the best secret of our beautiful women. Our Aloë Vera is also known as the ‘real aloë vera’ and is not only used in beauty products, but also in medicine, among others against rheumatism.
Divi divi trees
Our Divi Divi trees or Watapana are quite particular; they can actually only be found on our ABC Islands. They have a gray trunk and pear-shaped leaves. Since the wind on our island almost always comes from the same direction, they grow with the wind, sometimes even almost to the ground. The Divi Divi pods contain a lot of tannic acid, which was used in our tanneries. We think the Divi Divi has magical powers. You’ll never see us fall asleep under these trees.
Do you want to see some special and less common plants? In Washington Slagbaai National Park you will find more than 500 different species. Some even grow only on our island. In our gardens you will find lots of flowering shrubs: hibiscus, oleander, bougainvillea, poinsettia and frangipane give our gardens a beautiful look. Other beautiful natural areas with unique flora and fauna you should have visited before you leave are our mangrove areas that have been designated as Ramsar Wetlands: near Lac Bay Lake Goto and the Salinas of Washington National Park.