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National Journal Recognizes Medicinal Benefits of V.I. Trees

Text link to journal articleAn article on the medicinal properties of Virgin Islands trees, by UVI faculty member Dr. Robert Nicholls, has been published by The Journal of the American Botanical Council. Persons interested in traditional remedies, natural history and folklore of the Virgin Islands and Caribbean will be intrigued by the 12-page article, titled "Medicinal Trees of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Neighboring Islands." The article is included in the journal's HerbalGram81 (2009, Vol. 81, 32-43).

Noting that the ongoing conservation of the islands' trees is critical, Dr. Nicholls said he hopes the project heightens public awareness of how trees were used by V.I. forbearers. "Young people are our major constituents ... they will eventually be the custodians of our trees," Dr. Nicholls said.

An associate professor in Social Sciences, Dr. Nicholls is the author of the book Remarkable Big Trees in the U.S. Virgin Islands: An Eco-heritage Guide to Jumbie Trees and Other Trees of Cultural Interest (2006 UVI). He acquired information about the medicinal uses of tree products while researching island trees for the book.

The medicinal research shows that traditional cures in the form of gargles, poultices, compresses, teas, inhalants and lotions were prepared from the roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, resin and bark of local trees. The article includes 14 color photos of island trees. It discusses remedies traditionally obtained from Lignum Vitae (Wood of Life), Bay Rum, Silk cotton (Jumbie Tree), Tamarind, Sandbox (Monkey-No-Climb), White Cedar, West Indian Locust (Stinking Toe), West Indian Cedar, Genip and West Indian Mahogany trees.

HerbalGram 81 can be purchased for $6.95 from the Botanical Council's "International Store," at: (scroll down to HerbalGram 81).

An online version, with a simple layout, can be viewed at this link:">
For more information contact Dr. Nicholls at (340) 693-1184 or send email to