The Muse

The Many Uses of Nantucket's Flora

The Many Uses of Nantucket's Flora

There's more to Nantucket’s flora than meets the eye. While each plant is pleasing to look at, they all have an interesting story worth telling, too. These are just a few vibrant species that will color your trip.

Thanks to conservation efforts, vast swaths of Nantucket are protected, allowing its flora (the plants that grow natively without cultivation) to flourish. Colorful plant life is on display around virtually every corner, and there’s more to it than aesthetic value. Read on to discover where you can apply, eat, and shop the island flora.

For applying the local flora: Witch Hazel

When Nantucket locals in Sconset came across this fragrant shrub in 1896, they likely knew what it was. In 1850, a druggist in Essex, Connecticut, started selling Hamamelis virginiana, known as witch hazel, to treat bruises, burns, and itches. You could track down the plant with its bright yellow flowers in the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. But it’s far easier to head to Gift and Box, where you can buy local, small-batch products made with witch hazel, like After Sun Spray—the perfect way to keep skin cool and moisturized.

For tasting the local flora: Blueberries

Blueberries may be the most widely cultivated fruit in North America, but did you know there are five major varieties? The Vaccinium corymbosum is native to Nantucket, where the island’s damp forests and acidic soil are perfect conditions for the flowering plant. While many locals forage for berries in the wild, it’s essential to know what you’re picking. At the family-owned Moors End Farm, you can safely pick from 20 acres of berries and plenty more fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you’re seeking more than blueberry pancakes at breakfast, sip on Nantucket Craft Cocktails instead. At Cisco Brewers, you can order Triple Eight Distillery’s Nantucket Cran or Nantucket Blue vodka sodas, made with cranberries and blueberries.

For immersing yourself in the local flora: Rosemary

The fragrant Narcissus papyraceus (daffodil) and bristly Cirsium horridulum (thistle) are just a few of the plants you’ll find throughout the design of Life House Nantucket. With the island’s botany as our guiding spirit, we filled the house with floral-inspired textiles, artwork, and hand-painted ceramics. But the most botanical places are the guest room showers. Surrounded by custom tile work and with nourishing, plant-based Le Labo shampoo (made with fragrant rosemary leaf), you'll discover the most luxurious way to immerse yourself in the local flora.

For taking the local flora home: Black-eyed Susan

Native Americans used the Rudbeckia hirta, or black-eyed Susan, to boost immunity and ward off everything from the common cold to infections. Today, the locals cultivate this native Nantucket sunflower to brighten their gardens. To experience one of the island’s iconic flower fields, visit Bartlett’s Farm for otherworldly rows of snapdragons, daisies, and sunflowers. The farm prepares cut flowers daily, bunched from the seasonal bloom, which they sell all over the island.

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WHERE TO STAY

Life House, Lower Highlands

rooms starting at $149/night

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Life House, Collins park

rooms starting at $149/night

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Life House, Nantucket

rooms starting at $149/night

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