Thursday, February 19, 2009

sea grapes

They don't do well in frost so it's a good thing Sea Grape Plants live in the tropics. Also known as Coccoloba uvifera, Sea Grapes prosper as shrubs or trees, mostly along shorelines. Their salt tolerant roots reach down into the sand and soil where, in return for the nutrients they need, they hold the earth together, saving it from being washed out to the bottom of the deep blue sea.
. . .Sounds like a good trade.

The leaves on a Sea Grape Plant grow as large as a grown man's hand (or at least a sandwich plate) and offer shelter and shade from the direct sun, where they love to live, for the critters and crabs that call their lower branches home.

When summer comes, Sea Grape Plants bear their fruit. Once they're red and ripe, Sea Grapes are tasty little buggers. The pits are pretty big and so there's not a lot of meat on them but if you got a healthy handful of them, I guess you could call it a free lunch.
The trouble for humans though, is that laughing gulls, iguana and, I've heard, turtles too are out and about earlier in the morning than we are so they get at the fruit first. They eat the fruit and spit the pits, poop minerals back into the planet and propagate new Sea Grape Plants.
. . .Hmmm, another good trade

But if you could harvest a bushel bucket of red ripe Sea Grapes, you'd be, in a small way, pruning the plant and encouraging it's new growth. In return, you might mash Sea Grapes into jelly, relish or, because they ferment so quickly, even cheap red wine. (I kid you not, I've seen a few recipes)
. . .So, still another good trade.

Sea Grapes. . .
Another simple but elegant example of the inter-connected-ness of all life forms.

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