Flora & Fauna

Saba's plant life is a mixture of species brought in by the early colonists and native species. The wide variety of flowering plants range from prolific Oleander and Hibiscus found in gardens to wild flowers and orchids in the rain forest. The Wild begonia and Wild raspberry are also common along the rain forest trails.

Three distinctive vegetation zones are recognized; around the Mt Scenery, High hilltops to the lower slopes, and Meadows and cliffs.

Around the Mount Scenery

Dense vegetation with a variety of species covers the top of Mt. Scenery and upper section of the slope. The Elfin Forest covers about 8 ha (20 acres) with the dominant tree being the Mountain Mahogany. Epiphytes grow on trunks, branches and leaves of other plants. Orchids are among the most common epiphytes present. They have special structures that allow them to absorb water quickly when available. Other epiphytes include Liverworts, Bromeliads, Mosses and Ferns. In addition, Mountain cabbage or palm and several species of shrubs including Wild plantain, Tree ferns and Mountain manna are very common. At present the low cover and height of the trees a result of severe disturbances by hurricanes.

High hilltops to the lower slopes

Just below the top, but still high on the mountain, are Mountain palms and different species of Tree ferns. Elephant ears and Wild plantain trees are abundant. Lower down on the slopes, the fairly tall vegetation usually shows no distinction between the tree and shrub layers. The average cover and number of species are considerably less than that of the vegetation higher on Mt. Scenery. Redwood and Mountain fuchsia are wild tree species that grow in this zone. Cactus species including the prickly pear cactus and Sea grape trees with edible purple fruits can also be found.

Meadows and cliffs

Grassy meadows with scattered shrubs are mainly found on the lowest southern and eastern slopes of Saba. This small patch of meadows to the northeast of the old sulphur mine differs from the other meadows of this species-composition. The grass Botriochloa pertusa is the most abundant. Shrubs such as Marron and Baye withe are found scattered in this zone. Steep cliffs surround the island of Saba and are mostly barren slope: partly rubble and partly rocky. The steep terrain, sheer bluffs dropping almost straight down to the ocean's edge, prevents the formation of mangrove swamps or the establishment of much shore zone vegetation.

Birds of Saba

Saba is home to about sixty species of birds, many of which are sea birds. Bridled terns, Sooty terns, and Brown noddies breed every year in late spring on Green Island, a small cay just off the north coast.

Red-billed and White-tailed Tropic birds nest in the holes and crevices of the high cliffs while Frigate birds and Brown boobies soar near the coast. The rich waters surrounding Saba are feeding grounds for a wide variety of other seabirds, including Storm-petrels, Pelicans, and Gulls. Many migrating birds visit the coastline to rest and feed before continuing their long over water journeys.

Reptiles and amphibians

The island's small lizards seen along footpaths from sea level up to the top of Mt. Scenery are a species of Anoles lizard found only on Saba. The color differences between males and females are unique. The male has black leopard spots and displays an orange-yellow dewlap during courtship, while the females are smaller and usually a drab olive color. The non-poisonous and harmless Racer snake is a common encounter along the trails and roadsides. Although it typically disappears quickly into a nearby bush, it will sometimes remain undisturbed waiting to stalk prey and you can approach it quite closely. The species is only found on Saba and St. Eustatius.

Two species of large Iguana lizards are also sometimes seen along the roads and most often on a hike to Old Booby Hill. The Coquee is a tiny tree frog that is more often heard than seen. After sunset, the sounds of the tree frogs blend harmoniously with the distinctive noises of crickets.