Jones, K., M.B. Thomas and D. Hollister. 2019 In Progress. Native Trees for Community Forests. St. George Village Botanical Garden. St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.
Small tree to 30' in height with a dense, rounded crown; trunk to 12" or more in diameter, generally short; large trees may take 150 years to develop.
Bark: Light gray to light brown, smoothish, mottled, flaking off in thin 1 to 2" scales. Leaves: Evergreen, opposite, pinnately compound, to 3" long; leaflets in 2 to 3 opposite pairs, oblong to rounded, blunt-pointed, each 3/4" to 2" long and 1 /2" to 1 1/4" wide; dark green on both smfaces, slightly shiny above. Flowers: Showy, pale to deep blue or rarely white; 1/2" long and 1" wide with 5 narrow, radiating petals, borne in lateral and terminal clusters. Flowering in early spring, but as often as 3 times in some years. Fruit: Small, heart-shaped and flattened, orange, to 3/4" long and broad; each containing 1 to 2 elongated, brown seeds covered by a fleshy, red aril.
GROWTH RATE: Slow.
SALT TOLERANCE: High.
DROUGHT TOLERANCE: High.
PROPAGATION METHODS: Seeds.
A beautiful, flowering tree for large yards and parks. Dense crown makes it suitable for screening or as a windbreak. Only limitation is its slow growth.
This is one of the most valuable commercial timbers. Extremely hard, heavy, and durable. Its resin content makes it self-lubricating; has been used in bearings, and bushing blocks of steamship propeller shafts. Resin has been used medicinally in treating venereal disease; a leaf tea is used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes.
Because of the extreme value of its wood, very few large specimens of this tree remain in the wild. They are now generally small and scattered, and their number continues to diminish. There is extreme urgency in re-establishing this species wherever possible.
NATURAL DISTRIBUTION ON ST. CROIX
Scattered in dry areas; very small populations will re-establish quickly under favorable conditions.