Coccoloba Uvifera commonly known as Sea Grape and under the locals as ‘Druif’ is a tree that can grow up to 15m in height.
The plant is native to coastal beaches throughout tropical America and the Caribbean. The sea grape tree is wind resistant and highly tolerant of salt conditions. For this reason, you will find many along the beach edges in Aruba as they also aid in adding stability to these very beach edges. These are found in large scales on the Eagle Beach and Grape field.
Do locals plant the sea grape trees?
Although the locals love the sea grape many will not have the grape tree in their yard as the grape tree is known to attract termites.
The plants have a female and male version. Only the female produces grapes.
The flowers on female plants are followed by a pear-shaped fruit the size of a marble but a bit tougher than the ordinary grape and it has one large seed inside.
The fruits remain green and hard for a long time but eventually one by one they change to their mature deep purple color when ripe. It is produced in large clusters resembling other grapes. Fruit normally ripens unevenly in individual racemes and readily drops from the tree.
Because the climate in Aruba is the same the whole year, we have periods of time that these grape plants flower and ripen. And guess what it’s that time of the year again.
Most fruit matures during the summer, but in some years some fruit may mature in late fall because of late bloom. Fruit is produced only on female trees, but a male tree must be present for pollination. Assurance of a productive female tree with good quality fruit needs vegetative propagation. Large tree generally produces several thousand fruit per season, more than enough for individual use.
Health Benefits of Sea Grape
The fruit is loaded with numerous important vitamins and minerals essential for the proper functioning of the entire body. Sea Grapes consist of good amount of protein, calcium and unsaturated fatty acids found in omega3 group, effective in calming inflammation and reduce the symptoms of arthritis. They are therefore known to: Strengthen bones and joints, help strengthen eyesight, hair and skin and help by preventing cardiovascular diseases, constipation, and obesity.
Local use of Sea Grape
It is said that the roots, the leaves, and the wood of the sea grape tree has many medicinal uses. In Aruba there are still people that use apply the medicinal values of the tree. But the sea grapes are mostly culinary as the locals love to eat, make jam, or juice and even bake cakes from the grapes.
The grapes are in season and as mentioned are a very healthy addition to you diet. The trees along the coastline are un public property so it’s fine to eat the grapes. Just make sure they are deep purple as green sea grapes are very acid. Enjoy this local fruit!