1 The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve protects 25 acres of coppice and red mangrove forest. The Preserve is dedicated to the conservation of native species and to the research and documentation of Bahamian bush medicine.
2 The symbol of the Preserve - Tabebuia bahamensis - Common name: Five Finger - This tree has been used on all islands for a number of bush medicine remedies including strengthening (aches and pains) and aphrodisiac teas, gastrointestinal issues, circulatory problems and respiratory troubles. It is also used in the horticultural trade.
3 This is my good friend, Shelby White, an author, collector, and philanthropist. The Preserve is operated by the Bahamas National Trust and funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. It was developed by Shelby White, trustee of the Foundation, in honour of her late husband, Leon Levy.
4 We started out at the Welcome Center. Long time residents of the Bahamas, Leon and Shelby loved the natural environment and way of life on Eleuthera.
5 After Leon's death in 2003, Shelby wanted to celebrate her husband’s devotion to the island, while contributing to a better future for all Eleutherans.
6 The Preserve has been designed as a research center for traditional bush medicine. These are extracts of Psidium longipes - Sweet Margaret and Kalanchoe pinnata - Life Leaf/Leaf of Life to make healing teas.
7 Mark Daniels, Site Manager was very lively and informative.
8 There are plenty of coconut palms in the Bahamas.
9 Encyclia rufa - Common Name: Rufous Orchid, Butterfly Orchid - This plant produces beautiful greenish-yellow flowers in the spring.
10 The islands of The Bahamas do not have rivers or freshwater lakes. Their sole source of fresh water is rainfall, captured in underground layers. Often less than 5 feet from the surface, these lens-shaped, freshwater bodies float on top of salty water.
11 The boundary between the fresh water and salt water is called the halocline. Fresh water is drawn from the top of the lens. The lens can become contaminated by salt water when too much water is removed. Inundation by storm surges can also leave it vulnerable.
12 This is the Eleuthera Plant Sanctuary Waterfall. This spectacular open water wetland feature is enhanced with a man-made waterfall and inhabited by the endemic Cat Island Slider, a species of fresh water turtles.
13 There are sink holes in the wetlands, which are directly connected to the sea, as the water level in them rises and falls daily with the tides.
14 Though geographically considered part of the Carribean, The Bahamas is actually located in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of Florida. The island of Eleuthera is just 90 miles long and rarely more than 3 miles wide.
15 Zamia pumila - Common Names: Coontie, Bay Rush - Zamia pumila stems have been collected and used as a food source but are not used medicinally in the Bahamas.
16 Conocarpus erectus - Common Name: Buttonwood - It's used in the horticultural trade for its silvery leaves. The dense wood has been used for charcoal production, as well as in boat construction because of its durability in saline environments. It's also used for smoking fish and barbequing because of its unique flavor. It's been used medicinally to treat sores and cuts as well as to cause vomiting.
17 Pluchea odorata - Common name: Pluchea odorata - This herb is used to make a tea to remedy colds, coughs, pneumonia, tuberculosis, rheumatism, bronchitis, high blood pressure, toothache, fainting, fever, and various women's complaints.
18 Bucida spinosa - Common Names: Ming Tree, Brier-tree, Prickly tree, Spiny Black Olive - This shrub is used in the horticultural industry for its unique branching pattern, as well as for creating bonsai.
19 An amazing variety of wildlife lives in the tangled roots of the red mangrove. Crabs scramble over the roots jutting above the water, while juvenile fish and other creatures find cover in the water below. Gray kingbird, yellow warbler, and green heron are spotted frequently.
20 The mangrove wetland at Leon Levy Preserve is home to all four mangrove species: red, black, white, and buttonwood.
21 The long prop roots of red mangrove help to anchor it in the mud. This hardy tree expels salt through its leaves which, when dead, drop into the water and decompose. They form nutrient-rich food for small organisms which, in turn, become food for fish and other animals.
22 Laguncularia racemosa - Common Name: White Mangrove - All mangrove species are builders of land by trapping organic debris in their root systems and building up humus. They protect shorelines during hurricanes and the flowers are an important source for honey production. Historically the bark was used in tanning leather as well as an antiseptic.
23 We walked along the Mangrove Boardwalk and learned so much about this fascinating and important plant.
24 Rustic signs point the way throughout the Preserve.
25 An invasive exotic plant is a species that has been introduced into an area where it is not native. Growing without natural pests and diseases, it can spread rapidly, outcompeting and displacing native species and becoming a serious problem. The Preserve has a zero-tolerance policy for non-native invasive plants!
26 Stachytarpheta jamaicensis - Common Names: Blue Flower or Rat Tail - This woody herb to treat issues of circulation (high blood pressure), the gastrointestinal tract (worms, constipation), the respiratory system, blisters/boils, chills, and fevers.
27 Thrinax morrisii - Common Names: Thatch Palm or Buffalo top - This tree is used medicinally in the Bahamas for general strengthening teas as well as to treat pain.
28 Gundlachia corymbosa - Common Names: Horse Bush - This semi-woody herb/shrub is used in the Bahamas to treat pain, dermatological problems (blisters from Poison wood and Manchineel), as well as for colds and flu.
29 We were introduced to Bush Teas & Tonics.
30 And to Infant Care
31 We were told about bush remedies for Obstetrics & Gynecology.
32 And Respiratory
33 As well as Circulation
34 Kalanchoe pinnata - Common Names: Life Leaf, Leaf of Life, Life Plant - While not native to the Bahamas, this succulent herb is used widely for medicinal purposes including respiratory illnesses (asthma, coughing, tuberculosis) and pain (headaches strains, painful urination/kidney infections).
35 Phyllanthus epiphyllanthus - Common Names: Rock Bush and Hard Head Bush - This shrub is used to treat colds, fevers, coughing, dermatological issues, headaches, hemorrhaging, stomach pains, sore throats, mouth sores, tooth aches, as well as general therapeutic teas. The leaves are also boiled to produce a tonic that can be used to stop vomiting.
36 We were also told about uses for Poisonous Plants.
37 Ricinus communis - Common Names: Castor Bean, Castor Oil Plant - This annual is used to treat gastrointestinal problems (constipation) and pain (headaches). The seeds are poisonous but they are used to produce machine oil. Deadly Ricin is produced from Ricinus communis.
38 Hippomane mancinella - Common Names: Manchineel - Elsewhere in the Caribbean this tree has been used to treat ulcers (although some say it can cause them) and used as a poison for arrow tips. Sitting under this tree during rainfall can cause extreme blistering of the skin.
39 Lantana bahamensis Britton, or wild sage - The leaves are often boiled for use in strengthening and aphrodisiac teas as well as to treat types of dermatitis, when added to bath water. This is a popular plant in the horticultural trade as a landscape plant because of their beautiful flowers and pleasant smelling leaves.
40 This is the Educational Pavillion, where the Preserve strives to provide an exceptional educational experience for all its visitors. They offer several learning workshops.
41 This tree is Bursera simaruba - Common Names: Gumbo-Limbo - Its trunk is a reddish brown that peels off in thin layers. Within the Bahamas it's used medicinally to treat circulatory problems, as well as in strengthening and aphrodisiac teas.
42 Another example of this magnificent tree - Because of its peeling red bark, it's also called the tourist tree, resembling a sunburned tourist.
43 This is Tillandsia utriculata - Common Names: Wild Pine, Swollen Wild Pine - It's been used in the Bahamas medicinally to treat thrush and sexual impotence in men.
44 While walking along the Epiphyte Trail, we saw many fine examples of orchids and bromeliads. Epiphytes are non-parasitic, but grow upon other plants and sometimes objects.
45 This is a very unusual tree growth. Notice the natural bridges joining the several trunks of the tree.
46 We saw many bromeliads.
47 And many orchids
48 This is one of the several benches made from Island wood made by workers at the preserve.
49 This is a poison wood tree. Just touching the tree will cause a rash or an irritation. The bark looks like skin of a reptile.
50 We walked along the Tower Loop, which took us to the highest point on the Preserve. It was quite overcast, but you can see the ocean in the distance.
51 From the tower, there's a spectacular 360 degree view of the surrounding area, including a 120 degree ocean view. The Tower is about 75 feet above sea level.
52 Here I am in the tower with my dear friend, Memrie.
53 With Judy and Michael Steinhardt, Shelby, Rob Wynne, and Memrie
54 This is one of the few areas being cleared in the preserve for the planting of more native species. Notice the very red, fertile soil.
55 A former quarry in the property is now being used as a place to deposit all excavated materials and organic debris.
56 This is an old cistern from an old property that is going to be turned into a wet garden for plants requiring extreme moisture. On an island like Eleuthera, cisterns are used to collect rain water for drinking and irrigation.
57 This area is being excavated for a lath house, which is a structure made of wooden slats which shades the plants inside. This structure spans 36 square and 10 ft tall. The limestone wall will be carved into a sitting bench.