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Current Montgomery Botanical News






Hemithrinax ekmaniana and Ceiba pentandra by the lakes at Montgomery Botanical Center.

April 7, 2017

New Palmetto Species described by International Team

A new palmetto species, Sabal antillensis, has just been published! The new species is endemic to the Dutch Caribbean, found only on the islands of Bonaire and Curaçao, and has a striking, pachycaul appearance, with a swollen trunk and short petioles.

Sabal antillensis has been known about for some time, but not officially designated until today. Quoting from the paper: “The single native palm species on Curaçao and Bonaire did not receive much attention, or even a determination, for many decades.” The palm was only first documented in the late 1940s, and Botanists only began to mention its distinctiveness in the 1970s. A collaborative effort between Montgomery Botanical Center and the Carmabi Foundation thoroughly studied the morphology and anatomy of these palms, and found them to deserve their own new name, chosen to honor the Dutch Antilles where they are found.

Montgomery is very grateful to Dr. Lin Lougheed for generously funding this exploratory plant research, and to the Carmabi Foundation (Curaçao), the Government of the Public Entity of Bonaire, and the USDA for permission to study and collect these important specimens.

The paper, featured on the cover of Phytotaxa 303(1), is freely available as an open access publication on the Phytotaxa website.


February 3, 2017

A Monumental Work in Palm Diversity!
The Authoritative Treatment of Syagrus.

Dr. Larry Noblick has completed and published his monograph of the genus Syagrus. The work brings together the author’s knowledge of these palms’ geography, morphology, relationships, anatomy, ecology, and ethnobotanical uses, into a definitive treatment of these widespread and important palms.

Some Syagrus are well known as landscape palms, but the genus is also scientifically important as the nearest relative to the coconut, which is considered the world’s most useful plant. Recognizing 65 species, the new work introduces one new species, Syagrus pimentae, and makes three new combinations.

Larry began his fieldwork for Syagrus nearly 40 years ago, and this work took him over vast distances in Brazil, over much of South America, and throughout the Lesser Antilles, observing, collecting – and climbing – most of these species personally. In addition, Larry examined over 8,000 herbarium specimens for this study, at over 40 different herbaria. Quoting from the study:

The author has visited populations of Syagrus in the Lesser Antilles, French Guiana, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, and Bolivia. The author first encountered the genus in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (1978–1980) while working at the Federal University (ALCB) as a Peace Corp volunteer. Work continued (1981–1986) in Feira de Santana, Bahia (HUEFS), while building up their herbarium collections. They were further studied (1986–1991) while working on his doctorate thesis, “The Indigenous Palms of the state of Bahia, Brazil” (Noblick 1991) at the Field Museum in Chicago (F) and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He expanded his work on cocosoid palms as a post-doc (1991–1994) at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTG) and later as the Palm Biologist for Montgomery Botanical Center (1994-present).

Published as a complete, 262-page volume in the journal PHYTOTAXA, the work is freely available for reading and download on the PHYTOTAXA website – allowing open access for researchers, horticulturists, and enthusiasts to enjoy.

January 27, 2017

Kelly Botanical Research Fellow and Palm Expert, Dr. Fred Stauffer, 
Offers Lecture in Nell's House and Studies West African Palm at MBC.

Title: West African Palms, and new results on the Hyphaene project.

Speaker: Dr. Fred Stauffer is Curator at Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève, Switzerland.

Time and date: Friday, January 27th, 2017 at 2:00 PM.

Location: Montgomery Botanical Center, Nell's House Living Room.

About the Presentation: Dr. Stauffer will give a presentation including many nice pictures of the palms of West Africa and lots of ethnobotany of how these are used by locals. There will be many pictures of poorly known palms.

Dr. Fred Stauffer is a Kelly Botanical Research Fellow at MBC. The Kelly Foundation’s generous support of this program allows experts from around the world to make use of the MBC living collections for their scholarship, and to share their findings with the botanical community, students and the public through lectures. Please join MBC in thanking the Kelly Foundation for their support of plant research and education. This lecture was also brought to you with the support of the City of Coral Gables.


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