Wet tropical forests can be found at Sage Mountain on Tortola  and in Caldonia, the hilly, damp forest on St. Croix’s northwestern tip. Plant species here thrive in low light and moisture. Instead of building defenses against grazing cattle and drought, plants here have developed bitter-tasting and toxic leaves to defend against insects that thrive in the damp forest.
Bromeliads are members of the epiphyte family that nest among the branches of larger trees, gathering nutrients from the air and storing rainwater in their leaves. Bromeliads look like the leafy top of a pineapple; some produce beautiful flowers.
One especially beautiful forest plant is the tree fern, or Cyathea arborea. A straight, single stem rises leafless, topped off by delicate fern leaves. These trees look like normal ferns at first; they reach their full diameter on the ground before starting to grow upward.
Dry tropical forests are common; in fact, most of the wooded areas you see around you would fall into this category. In these ecosystems, trees and plants are adapted for long periods of drought.
One of the telltale signs that you are in a dry forest is the presence of the turpentine tree, or Bursera simaruba. This beautiful tree has dozens of familiar nicknames, including gumbo limbo, West Indian birch, gommier, and tourist tree. It is easily identified by its peeling, red bark and its graceful limbs.
There is an abundance of cactus types in the Virgin Islands . Turk’s-head cacti are almost perfectly round balls that sit right on the ground, with a reddish “cap” atop. The fuchsia fruits are edible, and a particular favorite of birds. These cacti are said to tilt toward the equator, which earned them the nickname compass plant.
The prickly pear cactus is characterized by flattened oval pads that pile on top and around one another to form a single plant. The deep, dark red fruits are edible, but be sure to peel them first to get rid of the prickles.
Some of the largest and most majestic trees you will see in the Virgin Islands  are kapok trees, also called silk cotton trees (Ceiba pentandra). These trees can grow to magnificent heights—up to 75 feet—with trunks as wide as a car. Kapok trees produce large pods full of short, lustrous fibers. This fiber has been used to stuff pillows, lifejackets, and furniture.
One of the most beautiful tropical flowering trees is the frangipani, often seen in gardens as well as in the wild. At first glance you may wonder if the tree is even alive—there are very few leaves. Look again, though, and you will see the lovely white flowers and long, dimpled leaves. In the spring, at the beginning of the dry season, colorful frangipani caterpillars come to munch on the leaves.
Other important features of the dry forest are the aloe and century plants. Aloe grows wild throughout the dry forest and is a useful plant, since the gooey substance that oozes out when you crack a leaf can be useful in treating burns and cuts. Century plants are the flowering stalk of the agave, which bloom in the spring. Look out over the landscape of the dry forest at that time, and you will delight in counting the number of bright yellow chimneys you see. In recent years, a blight brought by imported century plants affected century plants on Tortola , St. Thomas , and other islands.