The 12 Most Common Types of Trees in the Dominican Republic

When most people think about the species of trees that grow in the Dominican Republic, their minds go directly to palm trees – but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface! 

There are so many different types of trees that call the Dominican Republic home, ranging from the rugged mesquite trees found in sandy terrain to lush evergreens thriving within tropical forests.  

Although not all of the trees you will find here are native to the Caribbean, they have been naturalized over the last few centuries and flourish in tropical climates. 

Check out this list of the twelve most common types of trees in the Dominican Republic so you know what to look for on your next trip to the country

1. Caoba

Caoba

Known widely around the globe as the Mahogany tree, the Caoba is one of the most common trees you will find in the Dominican Republic. 

In fact, there are so many Caoba trees in the country that it has even become the Dominican Republic’s national tree.

This may come as a shock considering how abundant this type of tree is all around the world, but the Caoba actually originated here in the West Indies. 

The Caoba is not only a beautiful tree to look at, but it also serves many purposes throughout the country, such as for the production of timber. 

This is great news for the country because this particular type of mahogany tree is extremely important for commercial businesses, meaning the Dominican Republic is able to stay well-stocked on materials. 

The timber that is acquired from this type of tree is used in a wide variety of building projects, from the development of boats to the fine details of a musical instrument. 

This is one of the few types of mahogany trees that produce pure mahogany timber, which boasts qualities like resilience from rotting. 

Although you can find the occasional Caoba tree out in the wilderness, it is usually grown in large quantities on plantations dedicated to businesses like construction. 

As time has gone on, the Caoba has become popular as an ornamental piece and will often be spotted on the lawns of residential neighborhoods and along the sidewalks of city streets. 

2. Ceiba

Ceiba

Native throughout the tropical regions of the Americas, the Ceiba is a common tree known for its unique growing patterns and majestic appearance. 

The grand physical traits of the Ceiba tree have made it an important part of history as the Mayan civilization believed that it was the conduit for connecting the underworld with what is yet to be. 

This is why it is often referred to as the Central World Tree, and remnants of this ideology still live on to this day in countries throughout the Caribbean. 

With that being said, Ceiba trees that have grown in locations with frequent human activity often have some form of protection around them ranging from a small fence to a dedicated park. 

Since these trees are usually left to live their entire life without fear of being cut down for materials, the Ceiba tree can grow upwards of two hundred feet. 

If this towering height wasn’t impressive enough on its own, the Ceiba tree also has a massive trunk that sprawls out in multiple directions, with roots so large that they sometimes exceed the height of a human. 

When you are not admiring one of the dedicated Ceiba trees in the country’s parks, you can spot this magical tree in the wilderness anywhere there is a heavy flow of water. 

The Ceiba tree is often located in areas like swamps where it has plenty of water to absorb into its massive roots.

A fun way to admire one of these trees is by going on a kayaking tour in a wetland area where towering Ceibas can be found jutting up from the water.  

3. Creole Pine Tree

Creole Pine Tree

Also known as the Caribbean Pine, the Creole Pine tree can be found all over the Dominican Republic as well as in other nearby countries like Cuba and the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

Just keep in mind that although this tree is native to the Caribbean, it has made its way to all parts of the world that offer the tropical climate for it to thrive. 

And although you will find plenty of these beautiful trees out in the wilderness of the Dominican Republic, much larger populations can be found on plantations. 

This is because the Creole Pine tree is made up of materials that are ideal for various forms of construction, so the trees are now grown in abundance in order to supply the demand. 

From one Creole Pine tree, you can get both pinewood and resin, which are used in a variety of projects like the production of turpentine, chipboard, particleboard, fiberboard, and more. 

These trees regrow at a ridiculously fast rate, so they quickly reproduce viable materials after a mass collection of wood.

For the most part, these beautiful trees will stand tall at a height of about seventy feet, but there have been some instances where the Creole Pine tree has reached an impressive height of one hundred fifty feet. 

And even though their trunks are on the slimmer side, the tree’s incredible height allows for workers to gather plenty of materials from each tree. 

Aside from the commercial use of this tree, these distinct physical traits also make the Creole Pine tree a breathtaking sight to see. 

4. Ausubo

Ausubo
Image: Trade Winds Fruit

Native to the neighboring island of Puerto Rico, the Ausubo tree has made its way through all parts of the Caribbean, including the picturesque country of the Dominican Republic. 

It is considered to be one of the most significant trees in Puerto Rico because of its many uses, and this is why it has been naturalized in so many other locations, like the Dominican Republic. 

There are various plantations throughout the Caribbean dedicated to the production of the Ausubo tree for materials like balata gum and commercial wood for furniture and musical instruments. 

You can also find this interesting tree in the untouched parts of the Dominican Republic if you go exploring areas with heavy rainfall along the coast where the trees thrive. 

Plus, if you happen to spot one of these ancient Ausubos in the wild, there is a good chance that you are admiring a tree that could be a whopping four hundred years old. 

Because these trees grow at such a slow rate, their height is often an indicator of their age. A tall tree suggests that it is old – the tallest height on the record is an impressive one hundred fifty feet. 

Some distinguishing features include a thick trunk that branches off into many smaller trunks and long, stretching, horizontal branches on mature trees. 

The leaves of this tree grow in abundance, with a layer of latex coating each one, and the yellow fruit that grows on this type of tree can be harvested at any time of year. 

5. Bayahonda

Bayahonda

Also known as the Kiawe tree, the Bayahonda tree is actually considered an invasive species, regardless of the unique beauty it brings to the Dominican Republic. 

This type of tree is originally from parts of South America like Ecuador, Peru, and Columbia, but it didn’t take long for it to make its way to other tropical areas like the Caribbean. 

The Bayahonda tree was naturalized in places like the Dominican Republic for the many uses of its wood and flowers despite people’s distaste for its unattractive features. 

For example, the wood that is produced by this tree is perfect for creating durable firewood that then, in turn, burns down into high-quality charcoal. 

The pods that grow on these rugged trees are used for materials as well like the production of flour, beer, molasses, and so much more. 

Bees are also drawn to the tree’s flowers and produce a certain type of white honey that is considered a delicacy. 

Plus, the Bayahonda tree has an incredible growing style that allows it to thrive and reproduce in areas that would normally be too dry for trees to survive. 

The Bayahonda tree is able to live in these types of environments thanks to its large roots that extend deep into the ground to find any nearby water supplies. 

But with this comes a negative aspect, since the taproot is so extensive that it ultimately steals water from any of the other plants trying to survive in the area. 

When you find a mature Bayahonda tree, you will most likely notice that all of the plants that surround it have shriveled up and died. 

Plus, the branches of this type of mesquite tree are completely covered in thick thorns that have been known to fall off and cause issues like flat tires. 

Regardless, it is still a pretty cool tree to see out in the wild and you can find it in many places along the coast of the Dominican Republic where the landscape is very dry. 

Remember to always be on the lookout for its distinct branches when visiting areas like sand dunes and rocky shorelines. 

6. Campeche

Campeche

Like many of the trees that reside in the Dominican Republic, the Campeche tree goes by multiple different names like Logwood, Bloodwood tree, and Jamaica Wood. 

This type of tree is originally from the southernmost part of Mexico, but it quickly became naturalized in other tropical areas like the Caribbean during the 17th century. 

The Campeche tree has an interesting history, and it is said that the naturalization across other countries was the result of pirate raids. 

Spain had taken over countries like Mexico and controlled all of the resources that were housed there, but European sailors couldn’t resist the temptation of stealing the highly valued Logwood. 

Sailors used pirate raids to push their way into Mexico where they would then chop down as much Logwood as they could carry back to their countries. 

However, the growing popularity of this tree meant that the Campeche trees in Mexico were thinning out and soon trees were planted in other countries to keep up with the demand. 

Unlike other trees on this list, the use of its wood for building materials wasn’t even one of this tree’s greatest attributes. The main reason that Europe was so desperate to get its hands on this type of tree was because of the dye that could be produced from it. 

It provided Europeans with a more affordable way to dye the bright reds and purples that made up much of their royal attire.

Word quickly got out about the simple tree’s surprising qualities and countries all over the world desperately wanted to get their hands on it. 

As time has gone on, other trees have proved to be more useful for building materials and more efficient dying processes have been established, so you won’t find this unique tree on plantations during your visit to the Dominican Republic. 

That is not to say that this tree doesn’t still serve a purpose. The bark and leaves that grow from this type of tree are still used in a variety of medical practices today. 

Regardless, this is a beautiful tree to see in the wild, with its stemmed trunk and abundance of green leaves that make an impressive overhead canopy. 

Many people even go as far as comparing it to a bonsai tree, and it is often found in people’s homes where its size can be manipulated through the use of small planters. 

7. Cedro

Cedro

Often referred to as the Spanish Cedar or Cedrela odorata, the Cedro is a type of tree that you will find all over the tropics, but it is most dominantly located in parts of the Caribbean like the Dominican Republic. 

If you plan to spend time exploring the country’s many tropical forests, then you are guaranteed to see a plentiful amount of Cedro trees in their natural habitat. 

This type of tree thrives in areas with moist conditions and can also survive in environments that undergo brief periods of dry weather – but heavy rainfall is one of this tree’s greatest weaknesses. 

This means that even though you will find this tree in subtropical forests, the population begins to thin out when you reach rainforests. 

This is a beautiful type of tree to admire out in the wild and it is often accompanied by another one of the Dominican Republic’s popular species, the Mahogany tree. 

The Cedro tree is solitary, so you won’t find this tree growing in large groups, but rather spread out amongst extensive families of Mahogany and evergreen trees. 

You can identify this tree by its rough trunk, which is grey in color and leads up to a series of pinnate leaves that form large clusters with its leaflets. 

This impressive tree is not just something to look at. Its wood is resistant to nuisances like rot and termites, so it has become an extremely popular source of building materials. 

But due to the difficulty of growing this type of tree, there are very few plantations dedicated to it, so you will have to venture out into the untouched parts of the country in order to find it. 

8. Chaparro

Chaparro

Although the Chaparro tree looks more like a shrub than an actual tree, it has played an important role throughout the history of many Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic. 

The Chaparro tree is native to areas along the coast of the Mediterranean and was a hidden gem in countries throughout Europe and Africa. 

Once word got out that this bush-like tree could aid the survival of the sought-after Kermes insect, tropical countries from all over the globe were eager to get their hands on it. 

The Kermes insect was a popular resource because people were able to use the dried-up bodies to create an impressive red dye that was used to bring pieces of clothing to life.

This is why the Chaparro tree is often referred to as the Kermes Oak (its binomial name is Quercus coccifera) to represent the crimson dye that can be produced thanks to its symbiosis with the Kermes insect. 

Since it looks more like a bush than a tree, it should come as no surprise that the Chaparro tree does not grow very tall, and there are very few instances where it has even reached a height of six feet. 

It is often found on large farms due to its ability to withstand active grazing from animals like sheep and cattle, but this is not to say that you won’t find it in other parts of the Dominican Republic as well. 

You can find this tree anywhere near the coast thanks to its relaxed growing habits, but it does favor areas along cliff sides and on steep slopes with heavy sunlight. 

9. Sapotillo

Sapotillo

The Sapotillo tree goes by many names and is a picturesque evergreen that can be found in tropical areas around the globe. 

Origins of the Sapotillo tree can be traced to various coastal locations like the southern parts of Mexico, throughout Central America, and across the Caribbean islands. 

Soon after it was discovered, the Sapotillo tree made its way to Asia, where it has now become naturalized in countries like India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and more. 

In the wild, this majestic tree can grow nearly one hundred feet tall, but it is often found in cultivated areas where it averages a height of about fifty feet. 

This type of tree needs a warm climate in order to survive, and just one day of freezing temperatures can be the death of it. 

Aside from this, it is considered to be hardy in other ways since it has a strong resistance to wind and can survive the tropical storms that often hit the area. 

The leaves of this tree vary in shape and size and have a glossy appearance that makes them an ideal addition to the lawns of residential neighborhoods. 

When the tree is in bloom, it becomes even more beautiful with white, bell-shaped flowers that really complement the already extraordinary green leaves. 

Plus, the bark of this type of tree produces a white latex known as chicle, which is used in the production of chewing gum throughout the country. 

The Sapotillo tree also produces fruit that is very popular throughout the Caribbean for its combination of flavors. 

Just remember that although a ripe fruit will reward you with flavors of sweetness and malt, unripe fruit has an extremely bitter taste and can be toxic in some instances. 

10. Sabina

Sabina

Also known as the Savin Juniper, the Sabina tree has made it a long way from home, but you would never guess that it is not native to the Caribbean when you see how well it thrives there. 

This particular type of juniper tree originates in the mountainous areas of southern Europe as well as the central region of Asia but is now found all over the world. 

It is uncertain how this tree was naturalized in areas like the Dominican Republic, but it is believed to have occurred during the 19th century when the use of Savin was on the rise. 

This substance that gave the tree its name is very toxic and was once used to induce an abortion for women who did not want to bear a child. 

However, the side effects that the women faced after ingesting this toxin were often deadly, so it was as soon replaced with other methods. 

Nonetheless, it is important to remember that you should never eat the fruit that grows on this tree, nor should you touch it as you could be exposed to poisonous toxins. 

Regardless, it is a very unique type of tree to admire, thanks to the way that the wind can alter the bend in its branches like the picture shown above. 

This type of tree likes its fair share of shade and thrives in areas along the coast, so always keep your eyes out for its leaning branches when visiting sand dunes and exploring rocky cliffs. 

11. Laurel

Laurel

Although the Laurel tree played an important role in Greek mythology, changes in climate have almost eliminated it completely from the edges of the Mediterranean. However, it now thrives in other locations like the Dominican Republic. 

This is another one of those evergreen trees that looks very much like a shrub, but in some cases, it can grow upwards of sixty feet! 

Although most people don’t recognize this popular tree by its name, it is often associated with the bay leaves it produces since it is such a common herb used in cooking. 

But in Ancient Greece, this type of tree had even more significance. It was often referred to as Daphne, a magical mountain nymph, and its leaves were used to create wreaths that were given as the highest form of prestige. 

This type of plant thrives in humid climates, making it a perfect fit for places like the Caribbean, but it is usually only spotted as an ornamental addition to local’s homes. 

12. Santa Maria

Santa Maria

Often referred to as the Alexandrian Laurel, the Santa Maria tree is considered the native bay tree of the Caribbean and can be found across various islands including the Dominican Republic. 

Unlike the traditional Laurel that is usually found decorating people’s homes, you will find the Santa Maria tree peppered all throughout the country in both remote and city environments. 

Although the leaves of the Santa Maria tree look almost identical to that of the Laurel, they do not provide the same flavor and cannot be used as a replacement for bay leaves. 

That is not to say that the Santa Maria tree doesn’t have positive attributes of its own. In fact, this type of tree is a very popular resource for building materials, since its wood is so sturdy, and can be used in a variety of projects like the building of furniture and the construction of bridges. 

While this means that you may often see large plantations boasting an abundance of this beautiful tree, it has been planted in other urban areas as well. 

Mature trees provide a great source of shade and are often planted along sidewalks with intense sun exposure to give pedestrians a way to escape the heat. 

It is also used as a replacement for gates in between residential homes since it can grow thick enough and close together to form a border or natural fence. 

You will also find it during your visit to local beaches since its resiliency makes it a great, natural option for a windbreaker.