Fiji’s tropical climate, along with its geographic location in the Pacific Ocean, make it possible for over 113 kinds of unique flora to speckle its landscape. Burgeoning clouds shed their rain onto the islands and the tradewinds that blow from the east spread the rain across the eastern sides of its islands, causing the rainforests which crowd this region to flourish with plant life. Bamboo trees and shrubs are commonly found in these rainforests.
The stunning beaches of Fiji are covered by a variety of pine trees, such as silver, fishtail, fantail, umbrella and the ever useful coconut palm. Coconut palms are resilient and can survive the salty waters of the beaches and provide Fiji with one of its most versatile manufacturing resource – coconut oil – which is used to make cosmetics, soap and margarine. Many beaches of Fiji are also covered by the sprawling, 30-foot vines of the lovely and resilient “Beach Morning Glory,” whose purple and pink trumpet-shaped flowers can grow in seawater.
Pine tree varieties such as the Screw Pine and the Casurina Pine also add to the diversity of Fiji’s tree life. The Screw Pine, whose many-legged shape makes it look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, grows on the hillsides in Fiji, and the Casurina Pine, which reaches over 20 meters in height, is found along the Fijian coastline.
Visitors to Fiji to wish to systematically explore the flora of the island should make a trip to the Kula Eco Park, located on Queens Road in the town of Sigatoka. Here vacationers can wander leisurely through the rainforest or explore the bushwalk at their own pace. And Perry Mason fans should definitely not miss out on “The Garden of the Sleeping Giant” in Nadi, which was founded in 1985 by the actor Raymond Burr. An avid cultivator of orchids, Burr endowed this lovely garden with many varieties of exotic orchids and native trees, which visitors can explore on their own or with a tour guide. Orchid Island, conveniently located 10 km (16 miles) out of Suva, Fiji’s capital, is another terrific place for nature lovers to expose themselves to the diversity of Fiji’s plant life.
All loveliness and exotica aside, perhaps the most unique and important of Fiji’s flora are its mangroves, which are flooded forests that stand in shallow water and whose roots are sunk deep into the seabed. Mangroves are crucial to Fiji’s geography because they strengthen the islands’ coastlines against the ravages of a warming ocean. Mangroves also protect Fiji’s beautiful reefs by absorbing much of the force from high ocean waves and by producing a chemical that keep harmful algae from growing on the reefs. Some scientists and Fiji locals fear that as the climate changes due to global warming, the mangroves may be destroyed by rising water and salt levels of the ocean, thereby making the Fijian islands vulnerable to one day being absorbed into the ocean.
Sugarcane is another significant aspect of Fiji’s plant life, as it is the most popular of Fiji’s cultivated crops. About 90% of all refined sugar produced in Fiji’s four surviving sugarmills is exported by the government and accounts for over 35% of all of Fiji’s export revenue. Bananas are the other mainstay export item in Fiji.