I started hiking on Judith’s Hill almost as soon as I purchased my house in 2000. The whole family would join me on these hikes and our prime purpose was recreational during family vacations.
The principle attraction to this barren windswept hill was the spectacular views of the east end where you could see Buck Island Green Key, Sugarloaf Hill and the Goat Hills range (top). These hikes only occurred about once or twice a year and I really didn’t concern myself with the history or botany of the area.
A couple of years ago when I started walking for my health, I was committed to walking everyday and was bored to tears. I varied my hikes on a regular basis and started to walk Judith’s hill on a more regular basis. Eventually, to cure my boredom with walking, I started noticing the plants and tried to learn all about them.
The more I discovered the value of these plants and their global biodiversity, the more I became interested in the people who carried them to my island home. It seems that St. Croix has always been an island of Cultural Conflict beginning with the development of the Tiano Culture. The Tianos who were adept at making pottery, carving stone, farming and herbal medicine either drove out or assimilated the more primitive Amerindians who had originally settled the islands. A couple of hundred years before Columbus, the Caribs moved onto the island and began to displace the Tiano.
When Columbus arrived on St. Croix on November 14, 1493, he sent a crew to land at Salt River Bay where the second armed conflict between Amerindians and Europeans occurred. This is about one mile west of Judith’s Hill and within easy walking distance as an extension of the regularly scheduled hike. There is a rich written legacy of the Carib Resistance to the Spanish occupation of St. Croix and Puerto Rico and the Spanish were never able to gain control of the island except for a brief period in 1650.
Prior to that year, the most frequent occupants of the Salt River area were the pirates who came there to careen their boats. The Spanish were displaced by the Knights of Malta for a brief period before the French abandoned the island and the pirates and smugglers returned. The Danish took over in 1744, but the last case of documented Piracy was around 1757 and of Colonial smuggling in 1780.
The biodiversity of plants on St. Croix are a record of all of the various groups who have occupied the island. There are plants from the Mayan Peninsula of Central America, the Orinoco river of South America, the European Colonizers, the enslaved Africans and the Americans who are now in charge. All of our plants were brought here for a reason and it is fun to see where they came here from and why some group of people would have gone to the trouble to do it.
I have just started posting pictures and information on the Plants of Judith’s Hill but it will take quit awhile for me to post all the pictures and information I have gathered over the past 3 years. Meanwhile you can give me a call and take the hike.
I added five more plants to the Plants of Judit Hill so there are now a total of seven. I plan to add a few more plants each day but it will take awhile as their are probably a few hundred species on this hill and all of them had value to some group or another or they wouldn’t have made it thi far from their original home. You can follow the addition of the pictures alone on my Facebook Page where the newest ones will be at the front of the album instead of added to th end.