by Doctor Randy Thaman (University of the South Pacific USP)
There are over 127 species of vascular plants present on Leleuvia, including marine vascular plants (seagrasses).
Of 127 species:
7 are terrestrial ferns from 5 different families
38 are monocotyledons from 20 different families
82 are dicotyledons from 34 different families.
Ornamental species include
White frangipani (bua vavalagi or bua awai’i. Plumeria obtusa);Copper leaf (kalabuci damu, Acalypha wilkesiana); Croton (sacasaca, Codiaeum variegatum); Common hibiscus (senitoa, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis); Bougainvillea (pukanivili, Bougainvillea x buttiana);
Island musk (uci, Euodia hortensis); Grand and yellow crinum lilies (both viavia, Crinum asiaticum andC. xanthophyllum); tradescantia or oyster plant (Tradescantia spathacea);
and Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus).
The dominant tree in the coastal littoral forest is beach mahogany or tomano (dilo, Calophyllum inophyllum), which is also the dominant tree in the inner coastal forest. Other common components of the outer littoral forest include: beach trumpet (nawanawa, Cordia subcordata), lantern tree (evuevu, Hernandia nymphaeifolia), fish-poison tree (vutu rakaraka, Barringtonia asiatica), coconut palms (niu, Cocos nucifera), guettarda or beach gardenia (buabua ni baravi, Guettarda speciosa) and pandanus or screwpine (vadra, Pandanus tectorius). Also common, but more localized are beach acacia (tagia, Acacia simplex), beach hibiscus (vau, Hibiscus tiliaceus), Thespian’s tree (mulomulo, Thespesia populnea) and beach heliotrope (kauniyalewa or roro ni bebe, Tournefortia argentea), the latter which is found mainly on the southeast coast with a number of trees bordering the resort and a large tree just south of the restaurant. Beach almond, tavola lailai, Terminalia littoralis) and less commonly, tropical almond (tavola, Terminalia catappa) are also present, especially on the northern end of the island and the native coastal fig or banyan (savirewa, Ficus tinctoria) is also occasionally found in the outpost zone. Rare small trees seen in the outpost zone include and false elderberry or premna (yaro, Premna serratifolia) and Indian mulberry (kura, Morinda citrifolia).
Dominant shrubs in the coastal littoral vegetation type include beach salt bush or half-flower (vevedu, Scaevola taccada), native soapbush (verevere or vosolevu, Colubrina asiatica), and buabua ni baravi (Phaleria disperma). Less common shrubs, include silverbush (Sophora tomentosa) and beach daisy (kovekove, Wollastonia biflora), a common coastal plant (which is also of considerable medicinal importance), which was found bordering the food garden and possibly deliberately planted or protected because of its cultural value.
Common on other similar islands, but absent on Leleuvia is beach privet (verevere or aria, Clerodendrum inerme).
Common climbing vines or lianas on shrubs and trees in the coastal littoral vegetation include beach pea (drau tolu, Vigna marina); moonflower (wa ikaor tobici, Ipomoea macrantha); derris root (duva or wa tuva, Derris trifoliata); the leafless parasitic climbing and trailing vine, beach dodder (wa lutumailagi or wa lawa, Cassytha filiformis); beach nicker (soni or qalau sori, Caesalpinia bonduc); and Smythea lanceata, a climbing vine, the leaves of which look very similar to Colubrina asiatica), which although common in the centre of the island, also extends into coastal littoral thickets on the west and north of the island. There was also one indigenous epiphytic orchid (varavara, Grammatophyllum elegans) growing on a main branch of a Calophyllum inophyllum (dilo) on the west coast just north of the jetty. Occasionally seen in inner disturbed sites is the introduced invasive, leucaena or false tamarind (vaivai ni vavalagi, Leucaena leucocephala).