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Bahama Berry Bonsai

Discovering the Bahama Berry as a new bonsai species was quite exciting for Mary Miller.  It seemed perfect. The tiny leaves, flowers and fruit were exactly what we look for!

Dr. Popenoe, a former director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was the first to recognize Nashia as a potential bonsai subject.  He pointed it out to me during a Fairchild plant distribution day back in the 1980s.  He was right . . . woody trunk, small leaves, tiny flowers and fruit, fast growing and fragrant too!

Bahama Berry Bonsai

Family:  Verbenaceae   

Relative:  Lantana

Scientific NameNashia 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 the first created, using this plant.

It stands 20 inches tall, from the top of the soil.

If you own one of these bonsai, this may be its great-grandmother.

More About Nashia inaguensis

Nashia in butterfly garden at Fairchild Tropical Garden

The tiny flowers attract many pollinators, especially the Atala butterfly, so it has become a desirable addition to tropical gardens.

When brushed or touched the leaves (approximately 1/4 " in length) exude a delightful, spicy aroma. A full-grown Nashia, with ideal growing conditions, reaches about 7- 8 feet in height. 

Fully 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.

At first glance this doesn't appear to be a prospective bonsai subject. It may take a closer look at the textured trunk, the tiny leaves and of course, the wonderful fragrance, to convince you of its bonsai potential.

Two Scents in One!

Bahama berry flowers
Nashia "berries"

During a particularly heavy blooming of Nashia bonsai, you may notice a stronger, sweeter smell.  It comes from  the clusters of tiny flowers. The flowers are even smaller than the leaves, white and very closely set in groups on the branch.

Two scents - leaves and flowers - on one bonsai tree, what a prize.  

The fruit is smaller still.  The flowers develop into tiny orange to reddish-orange, bead-like clusters.

Tom Martin grows his 'BaBe' in Utica, NY

The small size of leaves, fruit and flowers make Nashia a perfect subject for miniature bonsai.

What to Name it ?

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 (the name used in the Bahamas) was confused with Fukien Tea (they're not related).

Rhys and I spent some time with humorous bantering over nomenclature, and we came up with 'Bahama Berry'.  I began selling it under that name and it continues in common use today.

Because some people had care difficulties, the late Barry Lowenthal thought it should be named "I Dry, I Die".   Lots of folks still agree.

Important:  Bahama Berry Care

Care of this plant can be a little tricky. In addition, sometimes it can have a very bad and peculiar pest!

  Read more about Bahama Berry Care.

Where to go From Here

see More Types of Bonsai

 Flowering Bonsai Trees

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