Plan afoot to save extremely rare plant

| 21/08/2020 | 19 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The critically endangered Aegiphila caymanensis is a woody, clambering shrub with soft, downy leaves that is unique to Grand Cayman and so rare that it has no common name and until recently was believed to be growing only in two places on the island. The National Conservation Council has drafted a species conservation plan in order to ensure the survival of this mysterious plant and is seeking public support.

The NCC has voted to circulate the plan and open a public consultation for its preservation and to also find a common name for the endemic plant, which is understood to be a type of spirit vine, though it is not actually a vine but a shrub.

The last of this species was thought to be growing only at the Health City site in East End and on farmland in North Side, but last May another one was discovered in West Bay by a plant expert on a ‘lockdown walk’.

Fred Burton, manager of the Department of Environment Terrestrial Resources Unit and renowned botany expert, said that very little is known about this incredibly rare shrub. It does not appear to be a habitat specialist as all three sites where the plant is surviving are different environments.

Burton explained that it appears to be dichogamous, producing male and female flowers at different times, and individuals and seeds of this species are highly recalcitrant and difficult to germinate. All efforts to propagate the plant have ended very poorly, he said during the NCC meeting this week.

Given the lack of knowledge about the plant and the struggles to find and cultivate it, there are fears that it will soon be lost forever so it is in dire need of further protection, Burton warned.

The species is already listed as a protected species in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the National Conservation Law but it needs a specific protection plan. The NCC is now seeking to implement a survival plan to enable the proper protection, management and continued propagation research to ensure its future survival.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Please can you update with additional pictures of this plant? Is there another local plant that is similar?

  2. Al Catraz says:

    They also reported that the leaves taste good.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Legalize it!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Everthing Caymanian is critically endangered.

  5. MAGA season! says:

    Why not clone it if seeds are difficult to propagate? You know take some cuttings?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, only if the botanists thought of that.

    • Fred says:

      Of course we do. Expert at that has been trying. No success so far.

      • Joanne says:

        Fred You know that I was successful but I was not allowed to do so at the Botanic Park when I found the plant and showed it to you

        • Faux Proctor says:

          But do you have an MBE (Most Botanical Expertise)?

          • Joanne says:

            Do they? I was successful at propagating this plant. Clearly the experts are not able to, what does that tell you?
            The experts were not listening either and didn’t question Proctor’s identification, I did and proved to be right.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you sure that this is A. caymanensis because it looks like A. elata on the pictures

      • We Grow Any T'ing! says:

        Mr Fred- Miss Joanne can grow dese t’ings for you in likkle time. How much you need?

    • Anonymous says:

      Cloning is only one of the first steps towards species conservation. Clones are all genetically identical and can therefore lead to in-bred populations. Growing this species from seed is critical to having a healthy, genetically diverse population.

  6. Richard S says:

    This is what you should focus on, not concrete towers. Preservation of nature before it’s lost for eternity.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Oh yes. Let’s all drink the Kool Aid.
    I call BS.

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