Visitors to Yap are often struck by the diversiry of island flora. Flowers, fruits, coconut trees and strong woods seem to be everywhere and growing with only the least bit of human assistance. In truth, Yap’s climate is conducive to growing a wide range of fruits, vegetables and flowers, but, the lirnited arnount of arable land, especially in the Outer Islands, puts serious limits an die ability of the Yapese to exploit the island’s climactic advantages.
Coconut groves tend to occupy die coastal flats, while nipa palrns, mangroves and taro patches tend to occupy the more muddy shoreline areas. Forest trees include breadfruit, banyan, mango, Tahitian chestnut and custard nut. Betel nut (Areca) pahns and citrus trees are also common. In the mountainous regions there are huge thickets of bamboo and wild hibiscus, as well as massive trees like the Tarnani which can grow as large as five feet in diameter.
Most of the wood for housing projects and traditional canoes are hewn here, and are selected based on things like resistance to termites and buoyancy.
Taro, yams, bananas, sweet potatoes, breadfruit, papaya, tapioca, sugar cane, cabbages, cancun squash, pumpkin, melons, guava, pineapples and passion fruit are common throughout the Yap proper islands and make up the staples of the Yapese diet.
A wide variety of colorful flowers grow wild in Yap and the Outer Islands and are used by young girls to make the fragrant, beautiful and intricate leis or marmars that Yapese and visitors all wear around their necks and heads. In the mid 1970s a curious red, white and blue flower named ‘Budweiser’ seemed to be growing out of control along the many of the roadways in the main town of Colonia.
But aggressive action by the Yap State Governmen: and continuing campaigns by the schoolchildren of Yap have all by eliminated this foreig.,n introduced ‘flower’ form along the island roads. Now, the roads around Colonia and through the villages are, more often than not, lined with neat rows of multicolored hedges and shrubbery, and are a pleasure to observe.