African Sacred Grove

Hidden Garden will soon be home to a circle of plants which are all of African origin. For many years we have been researching the ethnobotanical experience of the Afro-Latino Diaspora and hearing stories of interdependent survival. Based on years of research here at the garden and the revolutionary book, In The Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic Worldwe have a growing list of important medicinal, food and spiritual plants that came here from Africa over the past 500 years. These plants will be organized into a ceremonial space, using the Sacred Grove model from West Africa (see Ormsby & Egbeako ) in which plant conservation areas serve as grounds for other wellness and spiritual traditions to take place.

The plants listed below are either of African origin or have been integral to the survival of Africans in the Atlantic Diaspora. The list is a work in progress and features particularly those plants which can potentially grow in lowland Caribbean tropics. Those which have a number are already in our garden and the others are on our wish list (those marked with P are priority). If you or someone you know has access to these plants and/or information about the African ethnobotanical experience in the Americas, please reach out to us.



Bri Bri
Other Names
14 Shoe black MALVACEAE Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Amapola Hibiscus
18 Bissy MALVACEAE Cola acuminata Cola Cola Nut Africa
35 Banana MUSACEAE Musa acuminata Banano Banana Asia > Africa
36 Yellow Yam D. cayenensis
37 Bitter Yam Dioscorea dumetorum
38 African Yam Dioscorea rotundata Africa
47 Ginger ZINGIBERACEAE Zingiber officinale Jengibre Ginger
60 Dasheen, Coco Yam ARACEAE Colocasia esculenta Malanga Taro Asia > Africa
65 Plantain MUSACEAE Musa paradisiaca Platano Plantain Asia > Africa
81 Tamrin FABACEAE Tamarindus indica Tamarindo Tamarind Africa
108 Air Potato Yam DIOSCORACEAE Dioscorea bulbifera Hard Yam Africa
128 Cerasee CUCURBITACEAE Momordica charantia Sorosi Bitter Melon Balsam Pear Africa
161 Ackee SAPINDACEAE Blighia sapida Africa
P Black Eyed Peas Vigna unguiculata
P Cotton Gossypium herbaceum
P Finger Millet POACEAE Eleusine coracana
P Guinea Millet POACEAE Brachiaria deflexa
P Melegueta Pepper Afromomum melegueta Africa
P Oil Palm Elaeis guineensis
P Pearl Millet POACEAE Pennisetum glaucum Africa
P Sesame Sesamum alatum Africa
P Calalou Amaranthus spp. Amaranto African Spinach Bledo Africa
Calaloo Talamanca PHYTOLACCACEAE Phytolacca Jaboncillo Poke Root Americas
Castor Bean Ricinus communis Africa
Gunghu Beans Cajanus cajan
P 51 Saril MALVACEAE Hibiscus sabdariffa Rosa de Jamaica Jamaican Sorrel Africa
P 61 Okro MALVACEAE Hibiscus esculentus Cafe Chiricano Okra Ñanjú Gumbo Africa
S African Eggplant Solanum aethiopicum Africa
S African Yam Bean Sphenostylis stenocarpa Africa
S Bottleneck Gourd Lagenaria siceraria
S Fingerling Potato Plectranthus esculentus
S Fluted Pumpkin Telfairia occidentalis
S Groundnut Kerstingiella geocarpa
S Hausa Potato Solenostemon rotundifolius
S Jute Mallow Corchorus olitorious Africa
S Muskmelon Cucumis melo Africa
S Piper seed Piper guineense
S Rice Digitaria
S Sorghum Sorghum bicolor Africa
S Tamarind Africa