Going native

The Native Tree Nursery at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is propagating a selection of native species that are ideal for Cayman’s landscape. 

Although the nursery originally opened in 2006, the interest in native trees has become more evident lately and, with the assistance of volunteer Joanne Mercille, the park has seen a resurgence in the popularity of native species.

“We have selected a group of 30 to 35 plants that we will try to maintain a stock of at our nursery, for sale, with prices ranging from $6 for a one-gallon pot-size plant to $12 for a three-gallon size,” says John Lawrus, general manager of the Botanic Park.

The objective of the nursery is to establish a reliable source of native trees and shrubs for private gardeners and commercial landscapers, as well as to add local flavor to standard landscaping design and to improve the ecological value of developed areas.

The nursery was established as a Darwin Partners project, thanks to a generous private donation from Maples and Calder partners at that time, Henry Harford and Graham Lockington, with matched donations from the Botanic Park and the Department of Environment.


“Native plants and trees are integral to maintaining our local birds, bees, bats and butterfly populations, but there are limited places to purchase these plants,” says John.

“Being very much adapted to our own specific climate here in the Cayman Islands, native plants are typically less prone to climate stresses and, as a result, less susceptible to the pests and diseases that come along with a stressed plant.

“This contributes to lower maintenance costs after a transplanted plant has established itself in its new location. Once they become established, they are an environmental bonus with less future water and expensive irrigation requirements.”

Why go native?

Native trees and plants are perfectly adapted to life in the Cayman Islands.

  • They require less water, fertilizer and care than many exotic species.
  • They are suited to challenging habitats and are both salt and drought-tolerant.
  • They are stress-adapted, making them resistant to disease.
  • Native trees make for hardy, inexpensive, low-maintenance landscaping: trees help to cool exterior surfaces, reducing air-conditioning costs, and many provide excellent shade for gardens and parking spaces.
  • Native plants and trees will also attract wildlife to your garden.
  • They are of conservation and cultural significance.

Native species

The following native species may be available from the Native Tree Nursery at the Botanic Park:

  • Broadleaf
  • Broomwood saltbrush
  • Bullhoof
  • Cabbage tree
  • Cayman sage
  • Cedar
  • Cherry
  • Christmas berry
  • Cocoplum
  • Duppy bush
  • Fiddlewood
  • Green buttonwood
  • Headache bush
  • Inkberry
  • Juniper
  • Mahogany
  • Parrot berry
  • Pepper cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Royal palm
  • Sea grape
  • Silver thatch
  • Sling shot
  • Smokewood
  • Spanish elm
  • White fiddlewood
  • Whitewood
  • Yellow ironwood