My Vine-Infested Number Eleven Favorite Mango Tree

My Vine-Infested Number Eleven Favorite Mango Tree

My mango tree is not too high
Mangifera in di ca
Brought to us by Captain Bligh
But smothered by Cassytha

C. filiformis –Love Vine (the same)
Or call it Old Man Beard
And look — there’s Star of Bethlehem
Jasminum fluminense I hear

Then Abrus precatorius
On Phyllanthus angustifolius
The first-named one is poisonous
The next — a ghost notorious

The vines climb up on “Shamrock” (“Cow Stick”)
To create a tangled thicket
Tecoma stans grows so quick
Of all these plants most wicked

I’ve shown you four tree-killing vines
One berry, two flow’rs and “licorice”
They’d lack the pow’r my tree to climb
But bush and shrub support the wiss

Uprooting all dese shameless beggars
Ha’d wo’k fe one ol’ man lak mi
To save my one-one degga-degga
Namba ‘leben Mango Tree

jw platts cayman brac cayman islands february 26, 2016

Key (in order of occurrence in the poem)

Mangifera indica* Mango; perhaps from India; arrived via the West Indies
Cassytha filiformis Old-man’s Beard, Old-man Berry etc. “Dodder” in US.
Jasminum fluminense* Star-of-Bethlehem, a night-flowering Jasmine
Abrus precatorius “Licorice” in the Caymans, though seeds are poisonous
Phyllanthus angustifolius Duppy Bush here and in Jamaica, duppy meaning ghost
Tecoma stans Cow-stick, Shamrock, Elder and other funny names
wiss (vines) Withes, a word that has fallen out of common use
Number ‘leben Mango variety; from box #11 on the deck of HMS Bounty

* introduced species

Abrus precatorius, called “Licorice” though the seeds are poisonous

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