Introducing the Bahama Berry to the public, as a new bonsai species, was quite exciting.
Here's the story: During a Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden plant distribution day in the 1980s, Dr. Popenoe, a former director of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden was the first to recognize Nashia inaguensis' potential. He pointed out the woody trunk, small leaves, tiny flowers and fruit to the then bonsai instructor at Fairchild, Mary Miller.
After experimenting with times of year and other care aspects, it wasn't long before Mary developed a number of nice plants at the Bonsai Bench in Homestead, FL and made them available to the public.
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 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.
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 - from leaves and flowers on one bonsai tree. 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. 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.
Because some people had watering difficulties, the late Barry Lowenthal called it "I Dry, I Die". Lots of folks still agree.
In New York - Rhys O'Brien - suggested the existing names were a bit difficult. He claimed one of his customers called it nausea instead of Nashia! Moujean Tea (the name used in the Bahamas) was confused with Fukien Tea (they're not related).
Rhys and Mary spent some time bantering over nomenclature, and came up with 'Bahama Berry.' The Bonsai Bench began selling it under that name and it continues in common use today.
Care of this plant can be a little tricky. In addition, sometimes it can have a very bad and peculiar pest !