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View of Buck Island from East End, St. Croix, USVI


The Kenip tree is large with a usually straight trunk with many branches bearing many oval shaped leaves. It’s fragrant flowers grow in clusters at branch ends. The male and female flowers usually appear on separate trees. Also found in clusters is its round fruit covered with a green leathery skin and edible pinkish acidic, but sweet inner pulp. Don’t bite into it! The pulp holds a large white seed with a starchy kernel. The Kenip tree, a favorite to many, is native to northern South America and was introduced and naturalized elsewhere, including tropical Asia and Africa. It is possible that it reached this region by American Indians who migrated to these islands. Traditionally in the Virgin Islands, the leaves and stems were used internally as a treatment for coughs and fever, while the fruit was used to treat diarrhea. Locally, the fruit has also been used to make jelly and wine, and fruit kernels are occasionally roasted and eaten like nuts. Its wood has been used for construction and charcoal.