Discovering the Bahama Berry as a new plant for use as a bonsai tree was quite exciting. To me, this plant was especially so, as it seemed perfect.
The tiny leaves, flowers and fruit and textured bark were exactly what we look for!
Dr. Popenoe, a former director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, FL was the first to recognize Nashia inaguensis as a potential bonsai tree subject.
He pointed a small plant out to me during a Fairchild plant distribution day back in the 1980s.
He was right ... not only woody trunk, small leaves, tiny flowers and fruit, but fast growing and fragrant too!
I purchased several to experiment with.
Relative of: Lantana
Scientific Name: Nashia inaguensis
Native to: The island of Inagua in the Bahamas
Common Names: Bahama Berry, 'I Dry, I Die', Moujean Tea, and Pineapple Verbena
The Nashia bonsai shown here is one of my first, using this plant.
It stands 20 inches tall, from the top of the soil.
When brushed or touched the leaves (approximately 1/4 " in length) exude a delightful, spicy aroma.
The secondary branches appear in whorls and shoot out long and straight. These are a little bit of a challenge when styling.
A fully grown Nashia, with ideal growing conditions, reaches about 7-8 feet in height. Matured in the ground, the trunk develops to two to three inches in diameter.
In its natural habitat the shrub is rangy, and not particularly attractive.
Shown here, growing in the butterfly garden at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the Nashia doesn't appear to be much of a prospective bonsai subject or even an attractive landscape plant.
The tiny flowers, however, attract many pollinators especially the Atala butterfly.
The soft herbal fragrance may even catch you off guard as you stroll by.
Because of its natural appearance, it may take a little convincing and definitely a closer look to see the bonsai potential.
During a particularly heavy blooming of one of my Nashia bonsai, I noticed a stronger, sweeter smell. It was the clusters of tiny flowers.
The flowers are even smaller than the leaves, white and very close set in groups on the branch. Two scents on one bonsai tree, what a prize.
Fruit of the Bahama Berry is smaller still and develops in tiny orange to reddish-orange bead-like clusters.
In the tropics, they are easy to grow and it wasn't long before we developed a number of nice plants. One of our wholesalers in New York - Rhys O'Brien - suggested the existing common names were a bit difficult.
He claimed one of his customers called it nausea instead of Nashia!
Then Moujean Tea (name used in the Bahamas) was confused with Fukien Tea (they're not related).
Because some people had care difficulty, Barry Lowenthal thought it should be named "I Dry, I Die". Lots of folks still agree.
Rhys and I spent some time with humorous bantering over nomenclature, and came up with 'Bahama Berry'.
I began selling it under that name and it continues in common use today.
Creating Nashia inaguensis as a bonsai tree is not always easy. Do you have a photo of your Nashia success?
Would you like to see what others have submitted? You can comment and rate them on the
Bahama Berry bragging page.
The Nashia inaguensis is a bit tricky to care for. Also, this plant is prone to a very peculiar pest!
Be sure to read the very Important Bahama Berry Care information page.
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