Pwunso gymnosperm and economic botany field trip

The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class visited the Pohnpei state botanic garden at Pwunso to see the gymnosperms and angiosperms. To my delight and surprise one of the clove trees was in riotous bloom and full of cloves.

Possibly the prolonged sunny weather of January-February encouraged the bloom? Or the trees have simply aged enough? Initially I climbed one tree to try to obtain cloves.


While I was up the tree, the class started to arrive. Cheryll, Mae, and Liona-Leigh.


My students, being more observant, noticed that cloves were all around on the ground. I probably should have looked there first myself, but climbing the tree seemed like so much more fun. Besides, in all the years I have visited Pwunso, there have never been cloves on the ground.


Melsina, TJ, Markina, and Virginia view the cinnamon trees. I presumed the gate would be locked, but I did not use the "counter-clockwise" walk I have proposed using when the gate is locked. Starting with the cloves feels more natural than starting with the Eucalyptus deglupta and the nutmeg. That said, it turned out that the gate was open this year.


Apaisang examines the cinnamon tree.

Some of the plants that the class sees include the following:
  • Angiosperm: Syzygium aromaticum. Clove tree.
  • Gymnosperm: Araucaria columnaris. Cook Island Pine (male). Family: Araucariaceae
  • Angiosperm: Cinnamomum carolinense. Pohnpei cinnamon treemadeu
  • Gymnosperm: Cycad with cone
  • Angiosperm: Coffea arabica. Coffee flower and bean
  • Angiosperm: Piper nigrum. Black pepper. Family: Piperaceae.
  • Angiosperm: Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg and the spice mace.
  • Angiosperm: Piper ponapense. Pohnpei pepper vine konok. Family: Piperaceae.
  • Gymnosperm: Agathis lanceolata. Family: Araucariaceae. Near tennis courts.
  • Angiosperm: Pimenta dioica. Allspice.

A cone up in the cycad. Fall: no cones, coffee. Spring: cones, no coffee. Sometimes cloves.


The class pauses to consider the old Japanese agriculture station. By the end of the field trip the students have a better idea of what gymnosperms are on Pohnpei and some of the economically valuable shrubs and trees that the island can support and grow.


On the way back to see the kauri pines, a student found a ripe Garcinia xanthochymus (Clusiaceae) fruit. The edible part is at the center, around the nut, and is wonderfully sweet and sour at the same time. Misako, in the brown shirt above, proved brave enough to try a piece.

A more complete flora courtesy of the work of Dr. David Lorence, Diane Ragone, and Tim Flynn is also available.

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