Vegetation on the Turks & Caicos

by Caroline Brown

My birthday trip was great. We didn’t go to a local beach–Curt surprised me by taking me to the Caribbean, to the British outpost islands called Turks & Caicos. T&C is a chain of small islands–we went to the one called Providenciales, which is also the name of the capital city.

The weather and the water were fabulous, and I was struck by the lushness of the vegetation on this so-called “desert” island.

Here’s what the T&C Department of Environment and Coastal Resources has to say about vegetation on the islands:

Summertime in the Turks and Caicos Islands is definitely an acquired taste. Sometimes, July or August rolls around, and it literally hasn’t rained in months. The natural landscape takes on a dry and somewhat frazzled appearance. The native trees and shrubs either turn brown or give up altogether and lose their leaves waiting for a spot of rain that will surely come in October. For the majority of the year, the sun shines, making this an ideal place for sun-loving tourists but, seemingly, not such a hospitable locality for plants. In fact, precipitation records over the past 100 years or so indicate that only about 20-30 inches of rain fall on these islands each year, almost all of which is deposited in the month of October. The rest of the time, we’re out of luck. The sun bakes the earth, leaves turn brown and fall off of the trees and the constant trade winds dry out everything else.

Coming from the U.S. East coast, this isn’t how I saw it at all. The vegetation was very diverse and reminded me a lot of California. Here are some photos of a few of the things that I saw. From abundant palm-like vegetation, including palmettos, palm and coconut trees:

To shallow water habits such as mangroves & sea grass beds:

From beach-based vegetation staples such as ubiquitous sea oats, sea purslane, and Caicos plum shrubs:

To even more exotic plants, such as the Turk’s head cactus–the island’s national symbol:

The Turks & Caicos Islands seemed to have it all. It was a vacation I’ll never forget.

Map courtesy of Turks & Caicos National Museum. All photos courtesy of Turks & Caicos Islands Department of Environment and Coastal Resources.


5 Comments to “Vegetation on the Turks & Caicos”

  1. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CURT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m so glad you had such a memorable vacation!

  2. Happy Belated Birthday Caroline and wishing you MANY more to come!!!

    Great idea for a trip, how long were you away? Im jealous!!!!

    Huggs, G 🙂

  3. Hi Caroline,
    Nice to hear that you enjoyed yourself in my little country but be informed that the capital is not Providenciales but rather the much smaller and far more quiet island of Grand Turk with it’s capital town of Cockburn Town.

    I hope that on your next trip this you will be able to view this side of paradise.

    Yours in TCI Culture


  4. Hi Angie, thank you for the geography lesson. I love your islands–maybe next time I will see Grand Turk.

  5. Happy Belated Birthday Caroline! What a wonderful birthday present you received. Kudos to Curt for finding such a beautiful place to visit. The vegetation looks pretty lovely to me – months of snow make a single palm tree seem lush and exotic.

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