One of the centrepieces of The Treehouse’s garden is the majestic Lépini (Zanthoxlum microcarpum Grisebach). This beautiful tree is described as ‘indigenius and quite a rare tree of semi-evergreen seasonal forest’ and is found across select islands of The Caribbean, including St Lucia. The Treehouse’s Lépini reaches well over 15 metres tall and is one of the reasons that so many birds visit the gardens. I described it as ‘The Spiky Trunk Tree’ for most of my visit as I didn’t know what it was called. Sarah kindly identified it for us as Lépini. It should always have an accent (‘) over the e, but this doesn’t display on some browsers!
Spiky Trunk Tree
The trunk is beautifully marked with savage thorny growths all the way up it. These sharp thorns would definitely deter me from climbing it to get to the red berries, but I wonder why these sharp thorns actually came about? Maybe they deter epiphytes growing up them? Maybe they deter animals that no longer exist on the island from climbing up them?
Lepini produces Red Berries
The inhospitable trunk stretches far into the canopy where it is a haven for hungry birds. A mature Lépini can produce thousands of nutritious berries which are devoured by all sorts of creatures, from Insects and Lizards to Finches and Fruit Bats. There is constant commotion in the canopy, with birds tussling for position and foir the best berries. The tree is perfectly positioned near the sun deck so you have the perfect view of nature right on your doorstep.
Lepini at The Treehouse
Lépini is a relatively rare tropical tree and the fact that it is so healthy is a tribute to how it is being looked after. Sarah and Pablo at The Treehouse maintain their garden extremely well which ensures trees like Lépini can thrive. This tree repays the effort ten-fold, providing a mass of berries that bring birds, insects and reptiles into the garden. Visit The Treehouse’s Facebook Page here: Facebook for more photos and information.