Article featured in the St. Croix Source – US Virgin Islands

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum have awarded the St. George Village Botanical Garden in Frederiksted a level 1 accreditation for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism.

The St. George Village Botanical Garden is also now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.  This accreditation makes the garden the only registered arboretum in the Greater and Lesser Antilles.

The St. George Village Botanical Garden was established in 1972. It encompasses 16 acres with over 1,000 Caribbean and pan-tropical plants and trees growing against a backdrop of ruins and repurposed buildings of an old 18th and 19th-century Danish colonial sugar plantation.

Its collection of palms includes over 25 species that grow in the Caribbean and adjacent regions of Central and South America.

The garden’s native arboretum, containing over 20 species, is dedicated to trees that are considered “native” according to the oldest botanical records. These include Ceiba pentandra, Tecoma stans and Hura crepitans. This collection contains many examples of trees that have had commercial or economic value, and have been harvested to near extinction on the island.

Its naturalized forest provides visitors with an opportunity to walk through an area of shrubs, trees and vines similar to the “bush” on St. Croix. Nothing has been planted in this forest which cannot be found growing throughout the island. The pathway parallels Mint Gut, a dry riverbed, and it passes through areas containing native species as well as introduced naturalized varieties.

The St. George Village Botanical Garden is home to some particularly charismatic specimens including several cannonball trees (Couroupita guianensis), asausage tree (Kigelia pinnata), an enormous baobab (Adansonia digitata) and a towering kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra).

“To add the Arbnet accreditation to our credentials increases our visibility throughout the region and facilitates collaboration with a broader range of experts so we can continue to fulfill our garden mission,” said Sarah Brady, executive director.