Curacao - Den Paradera

Many plants in the Den Paradera garden

Dinah Veeris is on a one-woman crusade to preserve traditional medicinal plants. In the early 1980s she began Den Paradera, a magnificent botanical garden where she propagates over 300 species of wild medicinal plants.

Entrance of the Den Paradera garden

Den Paradera

The name "Den Paradera" comes from the Paraguiri Indians who once had one of the biggest gardens on this island. Dinah says, "I started Den Paradera because I saw that we were losing a lot of information, a lot of herbs. You could be out in the wild areas of the island today and see a lot of herbs. The next day you would not find them anymore. So I started to bring the herbs to this garden to help save them as well as the knowledge of how to use them."

Gate at the front of Dinahs garden

Dinah Veeris' botanical garden

When Dinah was unable to find certain species for inclusion in Den Paradera, she traveled to the neighboring islands of Bonaire and Aruba where the plants had not yet been eliminated from the landscape. Urbanization and industrialization have changed much of the wild landscape of Curaçao. But Dinah still visits remote hilltops in hopes of preserving medicinal treasures.

View video: Dinah Veeris speaking about preserving the plants

Green Remedies book cover by Dinah

Green Remedies and Golden Customs of our Ancestors by Dinah Veeris

Dinah is known throughout Curaçao as a healer, or in the local language of Papiamento, a curioso. She will take these plants home and make blends of herbal medicine to sell. Her knowledge of the local botany is impressive and she has published books often used by local botanists.

Dinah says, "I give my knowledge away because I got it from the older people. They gave me that knowledge and I feel that I have to give the knowledge to other people; to the young people, so they can spread it."

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