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It's a Plant's Life too

Sea Grapes - Cocciluba uvifera - Tídibu beibei in Garifuna.

July and August are the months for sea grape! This shrub or tree is native to the West Indies and can grow up to 50 feet tall. It is common on the beaches and cayes. The leaves can reach eight inches across and can be used as a hat for shade. The shrub itself stabilizes the beach and helps prevent erosion. It is said you can boil the bark for a solution to treat gum

The fruits are dark purple when they are ripe. They hang in clusters and are similar to table grapes in the US except the seed is much larger and the fruit is slightly tart. You can eat them right off the tree but I like to chill them first. Yes, you can make wine from sea grapes and sometimes people do.

Many children roam the beaches gathering sea grapes to sell by the bucket full. Almost every born Belizean has fond memories of picking sea grapes and the relationships formed in those carefree, idyll hours.

If you would like more information on the plants in Belize, look for Mangoes and More, a rough guide to Belize's fruits and flowers, a plant ID book full of color pictures taken in Placencia, on sale in most gift shops.


All photos provided by Lisa Carne. All rights reserved.

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