The Vegetation of the Five Islands, Trinidad, W.I.

Caroline Chaboo


The Five Islands - Caledonia, Nelson, Lenagan, Pelican, Craig and Rock + - are located just off the north-western peninsula of Trinidad. The Chaguararnas Peninsula and all the off-shore islands are situated in the rain shadow of the Northern Range and receive less than 200 mm of rainfall per annum (Beard 1946). The parent rock is a slow-weathering limestone and the soil is very poorly developed. Because of this combination of poor soil and dry weather, the Five Islands present a rather hostile environment for plant and animal life. The islands have all had a history of occupation and so the vegetation is not pristine. On the 1974 field course held on Nelson Island by the Zoology Department of The University of the West Indies a plant species list w!ls drawn up. This comprised some 48 species in 30 families. Five of these were noted as introduced. On the 1987 field course held by the Zoology Department in this area, the author set out to draw up species lists for all the islands and to examine some of the adaptive features of the plants found in this harsh environment.

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