St. John has a lot of cool plants and animals as many of you may know, and yesterday I happened to stumble upon one of them as Mr. News of St. John and I decided to spend some time at Honeymoon Beach. Rather than hike in via the Lindt Point trail, we opted to park in Caneel’s lot. We knew we’d grab drinks and lunch at the bar afterward, so the $20 parking fee wasn’t a worry to us. (The fee gets waived when you spend $20 or more on property.)
When we pulled into the parking lot, we were pretty psyched to get a spot in the shade because yesterday was a hot one! I hopped out of the Jeep and immediately saw a very cool tree. Check it out:
The tree is called Monkey No Climb for reasons you could see for yourself. I decided to seek out a bit more about this tree from an island expert, so I started searching Gerald Singer’s See St. John website. What I learned is that this tree is also called the sandbox tree. Here’s what Gerald had to say about it:
The sandbox tree is recognized by its many dark pointed spines and smooth brown bark. The sharp spines along the trunk have caused it to be called monkey no climb. The white prickle, yellow prickle and kapok have also been called monkey no climb for the same reason.
Another name for this tree is monkey pistol. The tree has beautiful seed pods that look like tangerines made out of wood. When the seed pods are perfectly ripe, the individual segments, which are the separate seeds, burst apart making a sharp cracking sound like a pistol being fired.
The origin of the name sandbox tree was once explained to me by St. John horticulturist, Eleanor Gibney:
“During the Victorian era a necessary desk accessory was something called the sandbox. People kept sand in it to blot ink with. Some enterprising person, upon finding these pods in the West Indies, must have decided that if you got them right before they split open and put a little glue in them, they would stay intact, and they would make perfect little sand holders.”
“There are probably hundreds of them sitting around in the attics of Europe,” she added.
Pretty interesting, right? Here’s a closer look at the prickly spines…
Now for those of you interested in gorgeous beaches a tad more than my random tree knowledge this Monday, this video’s for you. It was taken yesterday afternoon at Honeymoon. Enjoy! And Happy November 10th!! -Which happens to be my birthday… 🙂