Mapping Project finds more rare VI natives


In some ways, spotting a Calyptranthes thomasiana in the field is a bit like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Like so many of the plants that thrive in the Virgin Islands, the species is a shrub or smallish tree with leathery leaves that stay green year-round, The BVI Beacon reports. Our thanks to Colleen Cohen for bringing this information to out attention.

“They’re so similar to so many other things,” lamented Kew Gardens Botanist Sara Barrios last Thursday at Gorda Peak National Park.

Ms. Barrios and the National Parks Trust’s Nancy Woodfield-Pascoe were looking closely at a branch of what turned out not to be the plant commonly known as Thomas’ lidflower.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the endangered Calyptranthes is found in three locations worldwide: Monte Pirata on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico; Bordeaux Mountain on St. John in the United States Virgin Islands; and Gorda Peak on Virgin Gorda. Plant scientists estimate the global population of the plant to be about 170, the IUCN reports.

So when the pair eventually came across the actual Calyptranthes, they were all smiles.

“With what we’ve found here, we’ve essentially doubled the global population,” said Kew’s Martin Hamilton of specimens found on and off the trail at the park.

Mr. Hamilton and Ms. Barrios are in the territory this month working alongside NPT officers to continue a project to map native plants in the territory. Thursday was their fourth day in the field on VG and nearby smaller islands.

For the original report go to


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