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10 things you didn’t know about seagrapes

Usually we associate the production of grapes with the south of France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina or California. Places where the weather can be warm at times, but dry – perfect for growing grapes. And while we would never think of grapes when speaking of the Caribbean, or indeed the Dominican Republic, at this time of year, beach grapes can be found in abundance!

A woody tree of medium size, its natural habitat is the beaches of the Americans and the Caribbean intertropical zone, including Florida, and of course right here in the Dominican Republic. This plant has large rounded leaves which can be up to 25 cm in diameter, with pink ribs. Here in Casa de Campo this tree is found all around the Teeth of the Dog golf course, as well as at Minitas Beach, and in fact in many other areas.

So what are these 10 things you (probably) didn’t already know about seagrapes? Here goes:

1. They can be used as name placards

At dinner parties, the leaves of the sea grape plant can be used as name placards, just write the names of your guests in a fine black marker pen.

2. They protect turtles

Baby turtles (hatchlings) navigate back out to sea by orienting toward the brightest horizon – which is over the ocean. However artificial lights from houses, streetlights etc. is know to disorientate the hatchlings. In Florida this problem is overcome using the seagrape plant to block artificial light from nesting beaches.

3. They ripen individually

Unlike most fruits, sea grapes ripen individually, something which makes them very difficult to harvest. When they are ripe are ready to eat they turn deep red / purple, so if you want to eat them, don’t choose the green ones!

4. They can be used to make wine

When fermented they produce an alcoholic beverage similar to wine.

5. They save beaches

Sea grape helps to stabilize sand dunes and to protect upland structures from storm-induced erosion. This is particularly helpful in the Caribbean!

6. They make great mojitos!

Casa de Campo’s Massimo Carretta, who is currently running both La Caña by Il Circo and the Beach Club by Le Cirque restaurants created this recipe for a delicious Beach Berry Mojito!

  • 1 part of your finest White Domincan Rum (Barcelo, Brugal or Atlantico will do quite nicely)
  • 1 part Cranberry Juice
  • 2 parts soda
  • 2 spoons white sugar
  • 1 spoon Beach Grape Juice
  • 5 or 6 Mint Leaves
  • Ice

7. And jelly!

As well as juice!

8. They are home to mice!

The sea grape fruit is consumed by a number of birds and mammals, while the protective canopy provides habitat for animals including songbirds, lizards, gopher tortoise and beach mice. But don’t be afraid, beach mice are not found in the Dominican Republic, but only in the US.

9. They only produce fruit from August to October.

The fruit starts to grow in August, but it isn’t until mid-September that it starts to ripen and become edible.

10. The leaves change color.

New leaves are completely green, and as they mature the ribs turn a beautiful bright pink until the entire leaf turns a red-violet color.

Source: Casa de Campo Living

Category: DR Living |

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Last updated October 26, 2016 at 10:54 PM
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