The Ironwood Forest, Grand Cayman, is a unique, self-sustaining ancient growth forest, anchored on a ridge of pinnacled Cayman Formation – Dolostone rock. It is SE of George Town, on a fresh water lens, in a high rainfall area and has an amazing diversity of Cayman indigenous plants, including endemics and single-neighbor endemics. Many plants are Endangered and Critically Endangered, such as a giant Bromeliad, Old George – Hohenbergia caymanensis and the Grand Cayman Ghost Orchid – Dendrophylax fawcettii.
Ironwood Forest and Hell are the only areas of Cayman Formation rock on Grand Cayman’s western peninsula:
Geological map of Grand Cayman, Dr. Brian Jones 1994.
Ironwood – Chionanthus caymanensis, Family: OLEACEAE, Cayman Islands Endangered endemic tree, culturally significant – Ironwood was used for the foundation posts for houses. The wood is extremely strong and termite resistant. The leaves grow in exactly OPPOSITE pairs. It is a predominant tree of the Ironwood Forest.
Maybe it will take an orchid to save a forest.
The Ironwood Forest is a historically important living museum, where many endangered plants of cultural significance grow. There are at least 20 Critically Endangered, 18 Endangered, 14 Vulnerable, 3 Near Threatened and 8 Data deficient.
Some of the species found in the Ironwood Forest, a large part of which is on crown land, directly behind the University College of the Cayman Islands (formerly the Community College of the Cayman Islands). The forest is now inaccessible because the the College’s security system.
There are wetlands as well as forest, which provide moisture for the forest plants, such as the giant Bromeliad, Old George – Hohenbergia caymanensis