For thousands of years Aloe Vera has been used by healers for its medicinal properties. The plant can be found all over the island. Even at Sorobon you will find this world famous plant. Large molecules forming the gel, which has been known for centuries for its wound healing function. The aloe plant can be used in a number of ways: as a skin softener and moisturizer, as a healing and cooling gel for cuts and minor burns. It can even be used for people who have sun allergy. The aloe plant from Bonaire and surrounding islands has been bound to be highly effective, because of the high percentage of water. If you are curious about this plant and how it looks like, then it will be our pleasure to show you its secrets. We also have Aloe plant for you to use. Do not get confused with the Agave. This is a plant, which looks like Aloe but is much bigger and slightly poisonous.
Liberty tree or Katuma di Seda.
This tree spreads itself around. It has characteristic large grayish-green leaves. The stalk and branches are white and lilac. The flowers white and lilac. The see pod is like a big pompon. Herein is a very fine silky kind of cotton. “The old people say: if a person has trouble in sleeping, you put three leaves under the person’s pillow. Once the person falls asleep, another person has to take away the leaves???.
This very popular plant grows all over the Caribbean. It can grow twenty feet tall but also be kept low and busy by pruning it into hedges. The leaves are slender, pointed and a dull green. The colors range from white thorough cream, pink rose and red. The shrub is poisonous and food cooked on the wood can even poison. Blooms continuously.
Mangroves are salt tolerant trees growing along sheltered shores. It is not the tree itself but its root system that catches the eye: the stilt roots of the widespread red mangrove or the spike-like woody roots of the black mangrove. As it happens, mangroves grow in waterlogged soils deficient in oxygen.That’s why they “breathe’’ through pores located in the stilt roots just above the mud or in the spike-like roots rising above the water level. Another function of the conspicuous roots is the anchoring of the tree in the sometimes unstable soil.
Like seagrasses, the roots of the mangrove trees greatly reduce erosion from waves or tidal currents. Trapping sediments and silts coming from the land is another function mangroves share with seagrass beds.
The decaying mangrove leads produce nutrients, and the tree's roots provide an ideal substrate for algae and invertebrates. Thus, mangroves provide food for many fish and wetland birds. Additionally, mangroves offer protection to a great number of fish spending their early years in the extensive root system. On the shore, the trees are excellent nesting and roosting sites for numerous water birds such as herons, ducks, cattle egrets, and pelicans.
There are different species of mangroves, ideally growing in a natural succession from seaward to inland sites. The red mangrove claims the sea edge, while further landward the black mangrove and then the white mangrove are found. The buttonwood grows in the driest environment.
The importance of Bonaire's Lac Bay as a seagrass area bordered by mangroves has already been mentioned.
Large parts of the mangrove forest – red mangrove being the dominant species – are inaccessible and therefore in pristine condition. Herons are the most conspicuous bird species here. Furthermore, species such as flamingos, endangered ospreys, yellow warblers, and black-winged stilts can be sighted in the Lac Bay mangrove forest. The mangroves are protected as part of the Bonaire Marine Park. On Bonaire's east coast, Lagun harbors mangrove trees also.
The pink flamingo
Bonaire is one of the few nesting places in the world for pink flamingos. Flamingos acquire their flame-red color only after their fourth year. The red pigments are derived from the food they eat. In Papiamento the bird is called Chogogo, which is derived from the high-pitched nasal sound it utters. The birds are very easily disturbed, which is why entrance of the flamingo sanctuary is strictly forbidden and the area is totally protected. From the tower next to the road the view of the colony is wonderful and the pinkish-red birds can be observed flying towards the feeding areas. On the way to Sorobon you have the possibility to see a lot of these beautiful birds.
The sugar bird
The official name in english for this bird is "bananaquit". The Dutch, however, call it a "sugar thief". The birds derived their name because they love to eat sugar. Even at your porch you can put a small dish with sugar and they will visit you every day. If you place a bowl with water next to the sugar they will take their bath afterwards. It is a small bird with yellow underside and black upper-side.
Another animal you can find at Sorobon is the iguana. Please note that these are wild animals and feeding them is not recommended. They are very curious and come very close, but you have to be careful, because they can be aggresive.
Caribbean Parakeet (Prikichi)
Identified by briljant green plumage, blue wing tips, yellow-orange face,
long pointed tail; repeated piercing shrieks. Found throughout island were there is vegetation, usually in small flocks. Front may appear lighter with traces of light yellow-brown. Smaller, more numerous, noisier than local parrot.
Larger of two island species of hummingbird. Male has dark back, rufous tail with narrow black band at base. In good light, the iridescent brilliant red of crown and orange-gold throat may be seen. Female has dark bronze-green back, similar rusty tail with black band edged at tips with white. Front dull white. Found in same habitat – flowering plant, trees. Where there is competition for food, the larger Ruby-Topaz wins. Both are resident breeders on Bonaire, but their appearance is erratic. At times, one or the other or both species seem to be common everywhere. At other times, almost absent.
Royal Tern (Bubi chikitu)
Large gull-like tern seen year round on Bonaire. Heavy orange bill, forked tail, light grey wings darker at edges. White forehead, mottled back-swept crest in winter; crest becomes black in summer, nearly to base of bill. Perces on rocks offshore, in ponds. Dives in sea for food.
Introduced in 1973 on Bonaire from Curacao where it is Common. Head, neck, breast black, body vivid orange, black wings with prominent white patch at front, black tail. Bill blue-black, bare patch around eye blue, legs black. At home in town or country, partial to fruit of cactus or garden fruit. Also takes insects. Population expanding on Bonaire, now breeds here.