Ethnobotany visits Pwunso Botanic Garden

On 11 February the ethnobotany class visited the nominal Pohnpei State Botanic garden at Pwunso. This year the Pohnpei Visitors Bureau was dark and locked. The office had all but run out of cash power, and the building looked more decrepit than ever. That said, the plants are thriving possibly due to being left to their own natural growth patterns.

This term we changed our route as the middle gate is now kept locked. We started at the cloves, coffee, and what used to be black pepper plants. The posts for the black pepper have all fallen down, an apt metaphor for the black pepper industry in Pohnpei.

Jessica holds a clove nut, the surrounding mace still in place.
On this field trip I turned photo duties over to Marsela. While other students in prior terms have focused on stylish photos of their friends, Marsela focused on plants and the presentation.


The branch is that of a coffee plant. On a coffee farm the bushes would be trimmed to facilitate harvesting, and the plants would likely be replanted prior to reaching the age of our coffee "trees."

The Cinnamomum trees in the garden were mistaken for the local C. carolinense (madeu), but the trees have been identified by a team from the National Tropical Botanic Garden on Kauai as being C. verum, cinnamon trees.

The hot sunny weather has apparently been of benefit to the blooming of the clove trees - there were more cloves on the trees than I have seen in a decade. That or the trees have hit the age at which they bloom.
The class had to walk around the outside of the Pwunso area along the road to PICS in order to reach the kauri pine (Agathis robusta), the Calophyllum inophyllum, allspice, and teak.

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